New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis will play when the team visits the Indiana Pacers on Friday, but how much remains to be seen. The Pelicans are trying to navigate through an awkward situation with Davis, who demanded a trade but was not dealt prior to the deadline and has made it clear his future is not in New Orleans.
The NBA is essentially forcing New Orleans to play Davis, though new interim general manager Danny Ferry reportedly plans to re-engage the league in discussions about whether that is in the best long-term interest of either the player or the team. Davis saw his minutes dip in each of the final three games prior to the All-Star break and left a 131-122 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder with a shoulder injury but did play in the All-Star Game. The Pacers have no such drama on their team and come out of the break in third place in the East despite losing All-Star Victor Oladipo (knee) for the remainder of the season. Indiana had a six-game winning streak come to an end with a 106-97 loss to East-leading Milwaukee in the final game before the break but will play each of the next seven games against teams with losing records.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS New Orleans, FS Indiana LINE: Pacers -6
ABOUT THE PELICANS (26-33): New Orleans is looking toward the future with Davis out of the team's long-term plans and is giving extra minutes to center Jahlil Okafor. The 23-year-old former No. 3 overall pick was out of the rotation early in the season but logged at least 23 minutes in each of his last 11 games and posted five double-doubles in that span. "It means a lot," Okafor told the team's website. "I've had a lot of struggles in the NBA, so to have some type of success, it just feels good, and makes you want more. Playing games and watching film, I've been able to see the improvements I can make and how much better I can be. It's exciting to think about it."
ABOUT THE PACERS (38-20): Indiana leads the league in scoring defense (102.9) and held four straight opponents under 100 points before falling to the Bucks before the break. The Pacers are spreading out the scoring with Oladipo out and are getting strong contributions off the bench from power forward Domantas Sabonis, who is shooting 70.8 percent from the floor over the last six games. Shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who was signed after being waived by the New York Knicks, is 4-of-17 from the floor through his first two games with Indiana.
1. Pelicans SG E'Twaun Moore is 6-of-8 from 3-point range over his last two games.
2. Pacers C Myles Turner recorded multiple blocks in each of the last seven contests.
3. Indiana earned a 109-107 victory at New Orleans on Feb. 4.
PREDICTION: Pacers 113, Pelicans 101 Bet Now
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