Two statistics that say the Pelicans comeback chances are doomed

Apr 24, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) defends
Apr 24, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) defends / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans fell down 2-0 in their first round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. A first quarter blitz and a fourth quarter stiff arm from the Thunder led to a dominant 124-92 game two victory. 

The deck is now firmly stacked against the Pelicans.

Defeating the Thunder without superstar Zion Williamson was always going to be a tall task, but the Pelicans are doing themselves no favors. Playoff prognosticators believe yearly that for a road team to pull off an upset, they have to steal one of the first two games on the road. New Orleans had their chance to pull that off in game one when CJ McCollum’s attempt at a game-winner went flailing. Game two started fine for the Pels on the broad shoulders of Jonas Valanciunas, but an early flurry from Chet Holmgren stymied the Pelicans momentum and OKC cruised to victory. 

With game three on tap for Saturday afternoon, the Pelicans are in the danger zone. Saturday’s game is a must-win for the Pelicans, full stop. Even if they win game three, the odds of a monumental comeback are slim to none for New Orleans. 

A team has gone up 2-0 in a playoff series 411 times since 1971. In those series, the team up 2-0 has won 380 of those series, good for 92.4% of the time. In first round series specifically, teams that go up 2-0 have won 183 of 193 of those, a 94.8% clip. 

One would think that returning home would be a boon for the Pelicans, but the statistics say otherwise. The Pelicans full season net rating sits at +4.6, good for sixth in the league. In home games specifically, that number drops to +3.7. The Pelicans finished the season 21-19 at home, a below average mark across the Association.

For whatever reason, the Pelicans are a significantly better road team than a home team. Unfortunately, New Orleans’ last stand will come with one arm tied behind their back, and it will take a Herculean effort for the Pels to extend their season on Saturday.