The New Orleans Pelicans have the chance to get out to a great start this season.
The first part of their schedule is fairly easy, and even though they play some good teams, there isn’t a really tough stretch of games until late November.
There is debate about whether the Pelicans have improved, and we’ll get a good indication right away, as they should be able to string together some wins in the beginning, unlike last season when the front half of the schedule was loaded with marquee games.
Hopefully the young Pels can use the easier part of the schedule to get momentum going for when things get tougher.
New Orleans Pelicans: The 3 worst stretches of the schedule
The Pelicans schedule has three stretches that could make or break the season. The first is a seven game stint that starts on November 27th against the Utah Jazz.
The Pelicans then play the Jazz again before going to the Clippers, back-to-back games with the Mavericks, before finishing with the Rockets and Nuggets at home.
That Utah back-to-back is usually a pretty good indicator of how the season is going.
The next important stretch comes between December 21st and January 22nd. The Pelicans will play the Bucks, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Magic, Thunder, Cavaliers, Bucks, Jazz, Suns and Warriors.
The Magic, Thunder and Cavs games are all at home, and the Pelicans will need to win those, as they are sandwiched between tough matchups against the teams that were at the top of their respective conferences last season.
The Pelicans cannot overlook those three teams just because they stunk last season, as all added talented players in the draft and will be hungry for improvement.
The final stretch of games comes at the end in the final eight games of the season. The Pelicans will play the Lakers twice, the Trail Blazers twice, the Clippers, Kings, Grizzlies and finish at home against the Warriors.
These three groups of games will be vital to the Pelicans’ playoff chances and the final stretch may determine who is in the play-in, playoffs or sitting on the outside as the Pelicans were last season.
Pelicans schedule: Some games to circle on your calendar
There will certainly be some marquee matchups within the groups of games I just mentioned, but here are some others I am looking forward to:
- October 20th vs. the 76ers: This is the first game of the season and the Smoothie King Center will be rocking for Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
- October 22nd at Chicago: The Pels won’t have to wait long to meet their old teammate. This game will be the Bulls’ home opener and the United Center will be buzzing.
- November 13th vs. the Grizzlies: The Pels and Grizzlies have a growing rivalry and I look forward to the Pelicans continuing to dominate it.
- November 19th vs. the Clippers: Eric Bledsoe‘s homecoming should be interesting.
- December 5th at Houston: Houston is going to have a young and talented team. Jalen Green should give the Pels plenty to handle and this should be a showcase for some of the NBA’s best young talent.
- December 10th vs. the Pistons: Two former number one picks will face off when Cade Cunningham comes to town. The Pistons are another team loaded with young talent that should be fun to watch.
- March 24th vs. the Bulls: Lonzo Ball comes back to town. While I expect him to get a positive response from the live audience, the carnage on Twitter will probably not be as nice.