Four days. That is it. Just four days until the NBA regular season is over. The Eastern Conference is already set, with a full cadre of eight teams already queued up for the playoffs. Similarly, the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are locked into the first and second seeds in the Western Conference. Additionally, the Portland Trailblazers have also secured their ticket to the playoffs, though their seeding remains in flux.
This is, however, where the orders ends and the chaos begins. Currently, the four-through-nine seeds are separated by a mere one-and-a-half games. With most teams down to two remaining games, and only five playoff spots available for those six teams, chaos might be an understatement. One day you could be the fourth seed, carrying a home court advantage into the start of he playoffs. The next, you could be relegated to the ninth seed, sitting at home watching from your couch like the rest of your fellow man.
Things are looking good for the New Orleans Pelicans despite the chaos. Currently in a three-way tie for the fifth seed, the Pelicans are in that aforementioned make-or-miss range that is the talk of the Association. This is not a comfortable place to be. The Pelicans are still, however, one of the more likely teams to emerge from this fracas. This is for three reasons.
The first is that the Pelicans just got a signature win against the Warriors, as reported by New Orleans Pelicans writer Jim Eichhofer:
#Pelicans earn a crucial win in their bid to reach #NBA playoffs, besting Warriors 126-120 at Golden State, despite 41 pts from Durant. Davis leads Pels with 34 pts, Mirotic adds 28: https://t.co/LLgvkvppWF pic.twitter.com/Ytew7iunRj
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) April 8, 2018
Sure, the Warriors are without G Stephen Curry. Still, the Pelicans were able to go on the road and beat a Warriors in a close game that saw F Kevin Durant go off for 41 points. They did theses behind notable performances across the board for the Pelicans. F Anthony Davis came in and scored 34 points efficiently alongside 12 rebounds and four blocks. G E’Twaun Moore was perfect from the field, scoring 15 points and dishing seven assists. Finally, in perhaps the most notable performance of the night, G Rajon Rondo went full “Playoff Rondo,” scoring 12 points while dishing 17 assists and organizing the defense down the stretch. In short, the Pelicans are hot, and that can be all that it takes to bring New Orleans to the playoffs.
The second is actually quite simple: who do the New Orleans Pelicans play. The Pels play two more teams in the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs. In short, this is a favorable pair of games for New Orleans. The Clippers just got eliminated from the, playoffs, and have no incentive other than pride to win there game versus the Pelicans. The Spurs are a great team, but their best players do not match up favorable with the Pelicans, and the favorite in this game should be New Orleans.
The third is who the other five teams play. Four of the teams play two more games, quite like the Pelicans, while the Utah Jazz play three. I will not go too into detail with each individual team, but many of them play each other, while the Denver Nuggets play exclusively playoff teams. This does not guarantee that the odd team out will not be the Pelicans, but it does make them less likely that most of their peers, specifically the Nuggets.
In all likelihood, the Pelicans will make the playoffs. They are hot right now, and their remaining games on the schedule are favorable. Additionally, everyone else vying for those five seeds have to face at least one difficult team, and the Nuggets do so exclusively. Things bode well for New Orleans making the playoffs. The bigger question is who do they play and how do they do. It is time to wait and see.