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Pelicans at Pistons preview: Davis, Holiday lead New Orleans into town

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We’ve seen what Anthony Davis can do but stopping Jrue Holiday can’t be overlooked.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Detroit Pistons Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

If you need a reminder of just how good Anthony Davis is, look no further than his last visit to Auburn Hills:

59 points and 20 rebounds.

Um, what?

Game Vitals

When: February 1st at 7:30 p.m. EST

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

Anthony Davis leads the league in points per game (7.3) as the roll man in pick and roll play-types. Assuming Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry is a frequent reader of DBB, he knows that defending the pick and roll is one Detroit’s biggest weaknesses. So, yeah expect a healthy dose of the Anthony Davis-Jrue Holiday two man game.

Ok, how should Detroit defend it?

Good question, I’m glad you asked.

First, lets look at Holiday. There has never been a question about his talent; the question always seems to revolve around his health. True to Holiday form, he missed a handful of games earlier in the year and is only now starting to find his groove. Unfortunately for the Pistons, it’s a pretty solid groove as he’s scored 23 points (on 58 percent shooting) or more in four of his last five games. In that same five game stretch, he’s dished out 43 assists, knocked down 16 three pointers and collected twelve steals.

At 6’4 and 205 pounds, Holiday uses his body to patiently put himself into advantageous scoring positions:

Knowing that, on a pick and roll, if you let him get positioning, you’re toast. Below, is how not to defend Holiday:

Jonas Valanciunas sags to protect the paint (similar to what Detroit/Drummond does) but fails to keep Holiday in front of him. With his size and strength, Holiday simply waits for JV to vacate and scores on Norman Powell.

Now, this is much better:

Valanciunas still sags but meets Holiday much higher and out of the paint. As Davis rolls, he’s met by DeMarre Carroll. JV stays until Powell has completely recovered.

Holiday isn’t going to wow you with blazing speed; he’s going to pick his spots carefully and impose his will. If Detroit allows this, it’s going to be another long night.

As for defending Davis, well, good luck.

With someone as talented as AD, the best thing you can do is limit options and limit open looks.

Above, Kyle Lowry forces Holiday to the baseline and to the helping JV and ICE’s the P&R. DeMarre Carroll has already pre-rotated to help on Davis until JV recovers. That stop takes effort, recognition and teamwork - basically, everything Detroit has struggled with over the past month.

****

Projected Lineup

New Orleans

Jrue Holiday, Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Dante Cunningham

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Jon Leuer, Marcus Morris

Prediction

This is a winnable game but as we’ve witnessed, the word “winnable” probably should be deleted from the Pistons vocabulary.

Pelicans will sometimes lean heavy on their bench guys: Terrence Jones, E’Twaun Moore, Donatas Motiejunas and Tim Frazier (or Langston Galloway). If Detroit lets NOP’s bench score above what should reasonably be expected, this game could get ugly.

Pelicans 106, Pistons 110