Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports

Bucks-Pelicans Preview: The Brow Awaits

Anthony Davis is one of the league’s brightest young stars. He enjoys dunking and blocking basketballs.

Who’s playing?

The New Orleans Pelicans (24-37) and YOUR Milwaukee Bucks (12-48)

Where are they playing?

The Smoothie King Center. New Orleans, Louisiana.

When are they playing?

Friday, Mar. 7. 7:00 PM ET

What’s at stake?

For the Pelicans, not a whole lot. A solid overall roster with young talent in Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans has been stricken with injuries all season, and New Orleans finds itself 11.5 games out of the eighth seed in the West.

But there is plenty on the line for Milwaukee. It’s increasingly looking like a two horse race between the Bucks and 76ers for the league’s worst record (and best chance at landing the top pick). The Bucks have played surprisingly tolerably of late, while Philadelphia is riding a 15-game losing streak with no end in sight. Can Philly close the gap and complete the saddest comeback in sports history? Only time will tell.

Who’s their best player?

Luke Babbit Anthony Davis, no doubt about that. The 2012 first overall pick has accomplished the rare feat of living up to his pre-draft hype and earned his first All-Star appearance this season. Davis is averaging 20.2 points and 10.0 rebounds while blocking a league-best 2.9 shots per game and shooting 52.1 percent.

Who’s hot for the Bucks?

Pretty much by default, the answer has to be Brandon Knight. It’s a stretch to call anyone on this roster hot (though some ladies would probably argue a case for Carlos Delfino), but Knight has been, by far, the most consistent performer. And for this team, consistency is synonymous with hotness, I guess. Knight went for 25 points, five rebounds and six assists on Wednesday and is averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 dimes on 51.5 percent shooting over the last three contests.

What’s the key matchup?

Obviously, containing Anthony Davis is the top priority when facing New Orleans, but Davis is going to get his against whoever Milwaukee throws at him. The more intriguing matchup comes on the wing, where Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be tasked with slowing down Tyreke Evans. The 2009-10 Rookie of the Year was inserted into the starting lineup last week and is averaging 21.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.0 assists over the last four games. Evans told the Times-Picayune (an ELITE newspaper name) that he’s much more confident when he starts.

”I just know how to do those things better when I am starting,” Evans said. “I’ve been starting my whole career and I know how to control getting baskets and finding open teammates better. I’m comfortable with that position and I can say that for sure.”

What’s the injury situation?

Ekpe Udoh (ankle) will not play but could be ready for Saturday’s game against the Wizards; Larry Sanders (face) and Carlos Delfino (foot) are also out for Milwaukee.

Ryan Anderson (back), Jrue Holiday (leg) and Jason Smith (knee) won’t play for New Orleans. Holiday and Smith have been ruled out of the remainder of the season.

No one would happen to be suspended, would they?

Funny you should ask. The league handed down a one-game suspension to Ersan Ilaysova for the altercation with Reggie Evans on Wednesday. John Henson will start in his place. Check out the video of the incident below (NSFW)

What happened last time?

The Pelicans prevailed 102-98 on Feb. 12. Click here for the box score.

When do they play again?

They don’t. This one’s for all the marbles.

Projected starters

Pelicans

C – Alexis Ajinca

PF – Anthony Davis

SF – Tyreke Evans

SG – Eric Gordon

PG – Brian Roberts

Bucks

C – Zaza Pachulia

PF – John Henson

SF – Khris Middleton

SG – Nate Wolters

PG – Brandon Knight

Team rankings

Pelicans

Scoring: 19th (99.2)

Scoring defense: 19th (102.0)

Rebounding: 21st (42.0)

Assists: 18th (21.2)

Bucks

Scoring: 29th (93.9)

Scoring defense: 20th (102.1)

Rebounding: 25th (41.3)

Assists: 17th (21.2)

Leaders

Points: Knight (17.1), Davis (20.2)

Assists: Knight (5.0), Evans (4.6)

Rebounds: Henson (7.7), Davis (10.0)

Blocks: Henson (2.0), Davis (2.9)

PER: Henson (17.8), Davis (26.1)

Tags: Anthony Davis Bucks Pelicans Bucks Preview Milwaukee Bucks

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