The Washington Wizards started their grueling road trip against the elite Western conference teams with a signature win against the Houston Rockets, but since then they have been forced to eat some humble pie.
A three game losing streak with a blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and tough defeats to the Thunder and Spurs have brought the Wizards (22-11) record back to Earth.
Despite a 1-3 record to start the road trip, the Wizards can salvage their Western conference swing with a win tonight over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Relative to their previous opponents, the 17-16 Pelicans look to be the most winnable game for the Wizards on their road trip, but looks and record can be deceiving.
New Orleans has one of the best young players in the game, and arguably the best big man in the NBA, in 21-year old Anthony Davis. The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 23.8 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, and leads the league in blocks with 2.9 a game.
To put it into perspective, the Pelicans are a team on the rise and if they were in the Eastern conference, rather than the ultra-competitive Western conference, they would most likely be a playoff team.
In their first meeting of the season on November 29, 2014, the Wizards narrowly escaped with a 83-80 victory over the Pelicans.
In that game Marcin Gortat had one of his best games in the paint with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Davis had his way as well, with a game-high 30 points and 13 rebounds. With 1.7 seconds left in the game, Pelicans' forward Tyreke Evans missed a three-point shot that would have sent the game to overtime.
In tonight's meeting, both teams will look to establish their presence in the paint, as the Pelicans lead the NBA in points in the paint with 47.9 per game.
For the Wizards, the key to winning is keeping New Orleans under 100 points. Washington is 5-10 this season when allowing teams to hit triple digits in points, and 17-1 when they hold teams under 100. A main reason for Wizards' 1-3 record on this road trip is that teams are averaging 108.0 points per game.
Washington has also struggled to take care of the ball on the road trip, averaging 17 turnovers a game.
Despite the three-game losing streak, Washington is fourth in the Eastern conference standings and just 3 games behind the first place Atlanta Hawks (that was weird to type).
The Pelicans are coming off one of their best wins of the year, with a 111-83 demolition of the Houston Rockets. New Orleans has been stout at home with a record of 11-4.
A win against New Orleans would salvage the toughest road trip of the season for the Wizards and end their longest losing streak of the year. Tip-off is set for 8:00 pm EST.