There are 11 games on a busy Friday in the NBA and Brooklyn Nets head to New Orleans Pelicans as two teams in form face off.
Pelicans coach Willie Green and Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughan picked up the conference coach of the month awards for the West and East respectively for December, demonstrating how strong these two outfits have been of late, but both have been hit by recent setbacks.
New Orleans have lost star man Zion Williamson to a hamstring injury, while the Nets go into this game seeking a response, having seen a 12-game winning streak ended at Chicago Bulls last time out.
|What||Brooklyn Nets @ New Orleans Pelicans|
|Where||Smoothie King Center, New Orleans|
|When||19:30 ET, Friday 6th January 2023|
|How to watch||NBA League Pass, ESPN, BSNO, YES|
|Odds||BKN Nets -180, NO Pelicans +160|
Brooklyn endured a poor start to the season under former coach Steve Nash but they have hit form under Vaughan and now look like a team capable of going all the way.
When the Nets first assembled their ‘super team’ it appeared to be a case of when, rather than if, they would win a championship and this may just be the best incarnation of the Brooklyn Nets since Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant arrived at the Barclays Center.
The two stars are in form, and with Ben Simmons on the team they now have a player who has managed to shore up their defense.
After a summer of upheaval, with Durant and Irving both failing to force moves away, the Nets look fully focused on the task in hand and if they manage to keep their key men fit they should be a real threat in the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
New Orleans have been hit by a few injuries of late and their main concern is the fitness of star man Williamson.
The number one pick in the 2019 draft missed the entirety of last season through injury but has featured regularly this term, but now he faces a stint on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
The forward has been ruled out for at least three weeks with the issue and he isn’t the only big name unavailable for the Pelicans.
Brandon Ingram remains sidelined with a toe injury, although he is understood to be close to making a comeback, and Larry Nance is set to miss a fifth game with a neck problem.
The Pelicans sit third in the West with a 24-14 overall record and with everyone fit they have a chance of making a real impact in the playoffs but they are shorthanded for this match-up with the Nets.
New Orleans are still a dangerous team with CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas in form but this visit of Brooklyn looks a big ask for their injury hit side.
The Nets have a clean bill of health for Friday’s game and will fancy their chances of claiming a victory but the Pelicans should not be underestimated at their home stadium.
The Pelicans have six wins in their last eight and come into the clash on the back of a win over Houston Rockets.
New Orleans have been particularly strong at their Smoothie King Center home, with 15 wins in their last 17 games.
The fact this game is taking place in New Orleans does give the Pelicans a chance despite their injury problems as they remain an incredibly tough team to beat on their own court.
The Pelicans are 17-4 at home but their last two home losses have come against big teams from the East, with Boston Celtics claiming a 117-109 win in New Orleans in November and Milwaukee Bucks securing a nine-point victory at the Smoothie King Center in December.
New Orleans have beaten Philadelphia 76ers at home since the loss to the Bucks but they had 36 points from Williamson that night, and it remains to be seen if they can topple Brooklyn in the absence of the talented forward.