The abundance of basketball in, and surrounding, the Lower Midwest is arguably better than that of any other region of the country. Think about it. The San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets all hail from Texas, while the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans – relatively – recently abandoned their respective homes on the coasts for new beginnings. Is there a matchup between any of these teams that wouldn’t be interesting? I doubt it.
Tonight, it’s the Mavericks hosting the Pelicans. It’s the second night of fun between these teams, unfortunately, this matchup won’t be living up to it’s potential because of injuries.
Ryan Anderson of the Pelicans suffered a herniated disc and it was announced he may not play again this season. Prior to Friday’s Southern Showdown, New Orleans announced one of it’s offseason acquisitions, Jrue Holiday, is sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his tibia. New Orleans’ other above-average acquisition, Tyreke Evans, injured his left ankle (one he’s had issues with in the past) and was removed from yesterday’s game during the first quarter — Evans did not return, his status for tonight is uncertain.
The Pelicans and the Mavs engaged in a cajun-style, heated, and competitive first half of basketball yesterday in New Orleans. Dallas group of veterans executed on one end and and clamped down on the other, better execution during an ugly third quarter kept the Pelicans at bay going into the final quarter. Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki brought 19 apiece while Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert, and Jose Calderon contributed a combined 29 and they Mavs headed home, ready for a rematch the next day, with a win.
Dallas is fighting for a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference while New Orleans just hopes to stay afloat and out of the lottery. Thinking about the final two of eight slots in the West, the Mavs (along with the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies) are going to need every victory as it doesn’t look like things are going to get any easier. The Pelicans, on the other hand, should start considering an assessment for what they want to do this season. Eric Gordon, N.O’s starting shooting guard, will be on display with Evans possibly unavailable — Gordon is a player the Pelicans may consider trading because of his large contract.
Maybe sidelining some key players is the best idea on one side, but the other needs to do everything on a nightly basis to make sure they stay ahead in the heated West. If the Pelicans don’t see themselves as a playoff contender, or a team that can even come close, shutting down Anderson and Holiday and having them ready to go next season isn’t a bad idea. New Orleans could make more moves in the upcoming offseason to obtain pieces that would complement the already young, and talented, pieces in place. The Pelicans could attain another asset in this summer’s draft, one that figures to have a plethora of future stars, too.
Regardless of the each organization’s season, and long-term goals, there will be a combination of 10 Mavericks and Pelicans on the floor in Dallas trying to win tonight. There’s plenty of mediocre games in the NBA scheduled for this evening, but, I’m sticking with the one featuring two teams from the southern, middle from the country because – as people in Texas say – that’s where things are just “Bigger.”