After losing to Memphis, the New Orleans Pelicans are 11-8, which is good for the 3rd seed in the crowded Western Conference.
Just 3.5 games separate the 1st-place Suns from the 11th-place Mavericks and every team from 2-9 is within two games of each other.
This is about as balanced as the conference has ever been, as there is no clear frontrunner and you could make an argument for any team in the top 11 of the West.
New Orleans is entering a 10-game stretch of the schedule that could help them get some separation between a few of the teams bunched in the middle, who all have similar records.
New Orleans Pelicans schedule: 10 crucial games
This is an important stretch of the schedule, as the Pelicans have a chance to pile up some wins and have crucial games against teams that are near them in the standings.
Here are their next 10 games:
- vs. OKC
- vs. Toronto
- @San Antonio
- vs. Denver
- vs. Detroit
- vs. Phoenix
- vs. Phoenix
As you can see, six of the next 10 games are at home, where the New Orleans Pelicans have been very good with a 6-3 record so far.
Three of the games (OKC, San Antonio, Detroit) are against bad teams, though the Thunder are no gimme, even at home. But the Spurs have lost nine in a row and are playing defense like a team that is tanking for Victor Wembanyama, and the Pistons were already bad and are now missing their entire starting lineup. Those are games the Pelicans should win.
Six of the remaining games are against teams that are either just ahead or just behind the Pelicans in the standings, as they will play two in a row against the Suns at home and then go on the road for two in a row against Utah before traveling to Phoenix for a third game against the Suns.
If the Pels can win four of those first five games, they’d have a real chance to jump up in the West with a good showing in the Phoenix/Utah stretch.
Of course, the opposite is also true, so let’s hope the Pels can get back to full health before they enter that important stretch against the Suns and Jazz.
If New Orleans doesn’t give away any games against the bad teams, and dominates at home, they could be atop the Western Conference after these next 10 games.