With only twenty games left and the team deeply entrenched in a tight Western Conference playoff race, the New Orleans Pelicans are going to need every win they can get if they plan on making it to the postseason for the second straight year.
So the question now becomes, just how difficult will obtaining those wins be from here on out? Thanks to the good folks at Tankathon, we have some semblance of an answer.
For those who don’t know, Tankathon is a website that ranks the strength of every team’s remaining schedule by calculating the combined winning percentage of all the opponents each team still has to face this season.
As the name implies, this website is primarily intended for teams looking to tank games for a better position in the draft. Fans of those tanking teams pray for a high/tough remaining strength of schedule to make it easier to lose games and increase lottery odds.
However, the data can also be used for fans of teams like the Pelicans as they try to figure out the likelihood that their team gets to participate in the game’s second season.
Anyway, it looks like, for once, fortune is on the side of the Pelicans. According to Tankathon, New Orleans has the third-easiest remaining strength of schedule, with an average remaining opponent winning percentage of .475.
For reference, that’s the second-easiest remaining strength of schedule in the Western Conference; and the easiest one among the teams deadlocked between the fourth and 13th seed (four games separate these ten teams).
The team still has four games left against the top-3 teams in their conference (the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Sacramento Kings). But no games left against any of the top-5 teams in the Eastern Conference.
Plus, they still have two games left against the lowly Houston Rockets, one game left against the San Antonio Spurs, one against the Charlotte Hornets, and one against the Los Angeles Lakers (who are without LeBron James for an indefinite amount of time).
The Pelicans have been blessed with a favorable schedule to close out the 2022-23 NBA season. Now they just need to take advantage of it.