The Portland Trail Blazers (25-29) will visit the New Orleans Pelicans (22-31) Tuesday in a game that could better each team’s chances at making the postseason. Portland is 2.5 games back from the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies while New Orleans is five games back from a playoff spot. Entering All-Star Weekend on a high note could help power a second-half surge to the postseason. We took a look at the best Showdown lineup strategies for this matchup here:
Damian Lillard ($17,100) has cooled off some from the hot streak he began in January, has remained impressive. He’s still averaging 41.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.7 rebounds per contest in his last 10 games, but is still a chance he’s a dud against New Orleans. The only time Lillard has failed to make a shot from beyond the arc this year was when he faced the Pelicans in late-December. He was 0-for-10 from deep against the Pelicans’ impressive defensive backcourt. Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday could be the victims of a Lillard revenge game, but it’s possible that they’ll step up to the occasion for a second time this year.
If you’re going to captain a Pelican, it has to be Zion Williamson ($13,500). The rookie has scored more than 20 points in four straight contests and will have a huge advantage athletically up against Portland’s Carmelo Anthony. Brandon Ingram’s is questionable to play because of an ankle injury. If he’s held out, Williamson’s value on the the offensive in should rise. Portland doesn’t have a halfway decent backup option, so Anthony should struggle dealing with Williamson’s explosiveness, speed, and strength for more than 30 minutes.
Ingram’s injury has helped Josh Hart ($7,200) log more minutes at small forward. Although he’s an undersized frontcourt option, he’s able to do a little bit of everything for the Pelicans. His rebounding has helped him flirt with double-doubles pretty often lately, and he’s eclipsed 31 DKFP in three of his last five appearances.
Gary Trent Jr. ($5,200) is gaining momentum and appears to have an edge on Anfernee Simons ($1,000) in the competition to back up Lillard and CJ McCollum ($7,800). Trent has played at least 33 minutes in each of his last two contests and posted strong scoring numbers as a reserve in each of those outings. Simons (concussion) is probable to play, but should still take a backseat to Trent if he’s good to go. Portland should keep going with the player who’s averaging 14.8 points per contest in February.