CJ McCollum Returns as Pelicans Look to Snap 2-Game Losing Skid

NEW ORLEANS – Following a disappointing two-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night, the New Orleans Pelicans got some good news on Tuesday and better news on Wednesday morning. First, the Pelicans advanced to the knockout round on the NBA In-Season Tournament, winning Western Conference Group B.

They will travel to Sacramento to face the Kings in the tournament Quarterfinals on Monday night. New Orleans is 2-0 against Sacramento this season, beating the Kings by a combined 41 points in a two-game series right before Thanksgiving.

On Wednesday, it was announced that guard CJ McCollum, who has missed the previous 12 games, would make his return to the lineup against the 76ers. The Pelicans have gone 5-7 in his absence.

McCollum’s return adds shooting to a lineup that tied its season-low for three-pointers made in Monday’s loss (7) and that has made only 31.3% of its three point attempts over its past four games.

In six games prior to his injury, CJ averaged 21.7 points while making more than three triples per game on 38% shooting from long distance.

The Pelicans have earned their 9-9 mark by being remarkably consistent at being inconsistent. They score 112.8 ppg and allow 112.9. Their offensive rating (112.6) is nearly identical to their defensive rating (112.7).

A slow start doesn’t necessarily mean a poor finish, considering that the last five times the team has made the postseason they’ve gotten off to an average start of 10-10 (.500). However, the Pelicans have won exactly one playoff series in that time because they’ve failed to earn home court advantage in any of those postseason appearances.

Tonight would be a good time for the Pelicans to start picking up the pace, especially with a relatively light schedule following tonight’s game against the visiting Sixers.

Playoff Appearance (Seed)W/L after 20 gamesPct.
2022-23 (9)12-8.600
2021-22 (9)4-16.200
2017-18 (6)11-9.550
2014-15 (8)10-10.500
2010-11 (7)13-7.650

The 76ers are annual favorites to win the Eastern Conference with last season’s MVP Joel Embiid controlling the paint. Tyrese Maxey is making the jump to star in this league, and the rest of Philadelphia’s lineup is rounded out with veteran roleplayers who have excelled so far this year.

It will be a difficult task for the Pelicans to deal with Philly’s length and it’s exceptional outside shooting. Perhaps CJ’s return will give the Pels the boost they need to pull out the win.

Keys to Victory

Defend the triple. There isn’t much of a difference in the amount of three point attempts by opponents whether the Pelicans win or lose. The difference is in percentages. When the Pelicans win, they hold foes to 27.7% from beyond the arc; when they lose, teams are shooting better than 36% from deep. Philadelphia ranks 10th in the NBA in 3P%, converting at a 37% clip.

Make your free throws. The Sixers lead the NBA in free throw percentage and attempts, so expect them to get to the line against the Pelicans. New Orleans has shown the ability to draw whistles, ranking ninth in the league in free throw attempts. Unfortunately, the Pels are 27th in FT% (73.2). If this game comes down to the wire, those makes and misses could be the difference.

Control the glass. Philly is big and strong. The Pelicans rely on athleticism and team rebounding to end possessions. The frontcourt will have to stay out of foul trouble and the guards will have to do their part in keeping the 76ers from getting second chance opportunities.

Most Recent Starting Lineups

Philadelphia 76ersNew Orleans Pelicans
G – Tyrese Maxey (26.6 pts, 6.9 ast, 40.3 3P%)G – Dyson Daniels (7.9 pts, 5.1 reb, 3.8 ast)
G – De’Anthony Melton (12.1 pts, 4.1 reb, 40.9%)G – Herbert Jones (11.5 pts, 4.1 reb, 1.9 stl, 1.4 blk)
F – Nicolas Batum (7.3 pts, 4.4 reb, 54.8 3P%)F – Brandon Ingram (24.6 pts, 5.2 reb, 5.1 ast)
F – Tobias Harris (18.6 pts, 6.2 reb, 2.7 ast)F – Zion Williamson (23.4 pts, 5.8 reb, 4.8 ast)
C – Joel Embiid (32.0 pts, 11.3 reb, 6.6 ast)C – Jonas Valanciunas (13.1 pts, 8.9 reb, 1.4 blk)


New Orleans Pelicans:  CJ McCollum (right lung) is Probable, Trey Murphy III (left knee partial meniscectomy), and Matt Ryan (calf) are Doubtful

Philadelphia 76ers: Danuel House Jr. (left quad contusion), Kelly Oubre Jr. (rib fracture), and Jaden Springer (illness) are OUT

Who: Philadelphia 76ers (12-5) vs New Orleans Pelicans (9-9)

Series history: 76ers lead all-time series 23-20, 1-1 last season

Next meeting: March 8 at Philadelphia

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: November 29, 7:00 PM CT

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans

Where to listen: WRNO 99.5

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2 thoughts on “CJ McCollum Returns as Pelicans Look to Snap 2-Game Losing Skid

  1. What a break to catch Philly without Embiid. Take advantage. Having CJ back certainly energized team. Like to see Scar dominate tonight

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