With the regular season less than a week away from its conclusion and the New Orleans Pelicans in the heart of a deeply competitive playoff race in the Western Conference, one can’t help but endlessly monitor the standings.
How do we get this seed? How do we avoid falling to this seed? One could theoretically spend hours contemplating the seemingly endless possibilities that exist. But since most of us don’t have that kind of time, we thought we’d do it for you.
For Pelicans’ fans, there are three games on today’s docket that hold relevance to the team’s play-in/playoff standing.
The first of those games is, of course, the Pelicans’ clash against the Memphis Grizzlies. First and foremost, the Pelicans need to take care of business against the depleted Grizzlies to, at the very least, maintain their spot in the rankings (and hopefully improve it).
A win tonight against Memphis guarantees that the Pelicans will finish no lower than ninth place in the West, which ensures them a spot in the play-in tournament (to learn more about how the NBA Play-In Tournament works, check out this post here).
If the Pelicans don’t win, they can still guarantee a spot in the play-in tournament if the Sacramento Kings beat the Dallas Mavericks tonight. So, New Orleans fans will also be Sacramento fans tonight (a strange feeling considering we were just rooting against them yesterday).
Being that they are only a game back from the sixth seed and a game and a half back from the fifth seed, New Orleans still has aspirations of clinching the playoffs without participating in the play-in tournament.
To further this crusade, the Pelicans will hope that the Los Angeles Lakers fall to the Los Angeles Clippers tonight (which is definitely possible, considering that the Lakers could be missing some key pieces).
The reason they want the Lakers to lose is because the Purple and Gold hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them. Meanwhile, the Pelicans hold that tiebreaker over the Clippers (to learn how tiebreakers work, check out this post here).
Because of this, the Pelicans are okay with the prospect of being tied with the Clippers (since they would leapfrog them in the standings) but would prefer that the Lakers have a worse win-loss record than them (since the Lakers would leapfrog them in the standings in the event of a tie).
(Sidenote: Outside of the potential playoff ramifications, the Lakers having a worse record than the Pelicans also matters to New Orleans because they have the option to swap picks in this upcoming draft).
To summarize, tonight, Pelicans fans are rooting for the Pelicans (of course), Kings, and Clippers. And they are rooting against the Grizzlies, Mavericks, and Lakers.