New Orleans Pelicans: A strong first half is the key to playoffs

Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans will make the playoffs if they have a strong first half of the 2020-21 season.

The New Orleans Pelicans had an abysmal start to last season, losing 13 in a row at one point and dooming themselves before the season had really begun.

This was partly because of an early injury to Zion Williamson, but also because the Pels had one of the toughest schedules in the league in the first half of the season.

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The NBA clearly frontloaded the Pels schedule with games against top Western Conference opponents so that Zion could be in primetime as much as possible.

The same is true this year, as the Pelicans have the league’s toughest schedule by winning percentage in the first half.

This is why they will make the playoffs if they play well.

New Orleans Pelicans: Schedule should be easier in the second half

Here are the stats for the Pelicans’ schedule in the first half of the season:

Games: 37

Road Games: 17

Games against playoff teams: 25

Back-to-backs: 3

As you can see, the Pelicans have a tough start to the season, playing all but 12 games against teams who made the playoffs last season.

Of those teams, only Oklahoma State is not expected to make it back to the playoffs this year.

Of the games against non-playoff teams from last year, three are against the Suns and two against San Antonio, two teams that have a good shot at the playoffs this season.

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They have games against both Los Angeles teams (back-to-back), two against Utah, two against Toronto and will also play Boston and Milwaukee.

If the New Orleans Pelicans can stay afloat and healthy during the first half, they should have a good chance to make the playoffs, as their schedule will lighten up some in the second half.

The Pels seem up to the challenge so far, starting out 2-1, with Brandon Ingram winning Western Conference player of the week.

It’s a good start to a first half of the season that will be brutal, but if the Pels can keep it up, the playoffs will be there for the taking.

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