The Brooklyn Nets are on the road again, this time making the trip to New Orleans to face off with the Pelicans tonight at 8 pm EST. Brooklyn is coming off of a blowout win over last season’s Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers while New Orleans has gotten off to an incredible start to their season. The Pelicans are 3-0 with wins over Houston, Sacramento, and the Los Angeles Clippers, have a player that is truly going to compete for MVP this year in Anthony Davis and a roster that complements him well.
Brooklyn is going to face an uphill battle — being on the road, not at full strength due to injuries to DeMarre Carroll, Treveon Graham, and Rodions Kurucs — but can hopefully handle what New Orleans is going to throw at them. If Brooklyn is going to win this game they’ll need to try to disrupt Anthony Davis on defense, take (and make) their threes, and take advantage of the Pelicans when the starters are on the bench.
Brooklyn Needs to Disrupt Anthony Davis on Defense
Handling Anthony Davis on either end of the court is going to be a tall task for Brooklyn. Not only is Davis a perennially favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, but he is a highly accomplished player on offense. So far he is averaging just over 30 points per game and can score from everywhere on the floor. Davis can shoot from deep, has a great face up game, can run in transition, and he can beat you in the post.
So how do you beat a player like this? By throwing a lot of different looks at him and taking away his help. Double Davis in the post, play him right to the three-point line, make him work for every single point. At the same time you do that, you deny entry passes to him by pressing New Orleans’ guards and wings.
Stopping Anthony Davis is really going to be hard for Brooklyn. Jarrett Allen hasn’t had success against bigs that are big like Davis but thankfully for Brooklyn, they are deeper than in years past. They will be able to throw Ed Davis and others at him throughout the game but at the end of the day, Jarrett Allen is going to need to step up to slow down Anthony Davis.
Brooklyn Needs to Take (and Make) Their Three-Pointers
When it comes to how Brooklyn can win this game, their three-point shooting is going to be really important. Since Kenny Atkinson has taken over, Brooklyn has been towards the top in three-point attempts. Three-pointers and the pick and roll is what these Nets hang their hats on for offensive production. With Davis roaming the paint, Brooklyn will need to rely on their shooting even more.
Joe Harris has shot 80 percent from deep over the past three games, Allen Crabbe is back in the lineup and should be getting back into the swing of things from deep, and both Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell can go off from deep when they are feeling it. In addition to that, Jarrett Allen has even started to shoot from deep and Jared Dudley has proven to be a reliable shooter from deep in limited minutes.
Brooklyn will need to swing the ball around the floor, keep things moving, and shoot well from deep. I am not sure that the Nets will be able to have success against New Orleans inside. Making players like Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis work hard on defense will help Brooklyn deal with them on offense.
Brooklyn Needs to Take Advantage of the New Orleans Bench
The Pelicans are probably going to repeat as a playoff team in the West this season. They are a good team and they have a bench that boasts last year’s best Lakers player in Julius Randle (who is looking better than ever) but Brooklyn will need to try to take advantage of when Davis, Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, and the rest of the starters are on the bench.
Kenny Atkinson has always experimented with lineups and is good at mixing in starters with key role players to make an interesting lineup. He will need to do this tonight for sure. Whenever Davis and Holiday aren’t on the floor, run tons of pick and roll or attack the basket as much as possible. If Brooklyn can prevent the New Orleans bench from scoring and do great on offense when the Pelicans rest their starters, the Nets can have a shot in giving them their first loss of the season.