After two straight wins at home to clinch a playoff berth, both punctuated by the magnificence of Manu Ginobili, the Spurs will head out on the road for their regular season finale to take on a divisional rival with seeding implications on the line.
San Antonio Spurs (47-34) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (47-34)
April 11, 2018 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management)
Pelicans injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (ruptured Achilles), Alexis Ajinca (knee), Frank Jackson (foot)
Pelicans make the playoffs despite another rough season
The Spurs have had their share of injury woes this season, but so have the Pelicans. In fact, injury has been their biggest issue for several seasons now. After missing Rajon Rondo for the first 13 games of the season, Cousins — who will unfortunately miss his first chance at the playoffs — went down in January with a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon. However, the Pelicans didn’t fold in the face of adversity and instead rode the back of Anthony Davis to the postseason for only the second time in his career.
Been here, done this
Closing the season in New Orleans might be bringing back some unsavory memories for Spurs fans that also happen to coincide with the last time the Pelicans made the playoffs. In 2015, the Spurs were sitting at second in the West heading into their final regular season game against a New Orleans club that had to win to get in.
The Spurs nearly completed a 23-point comeback in that game, but Davis refused to let it happen, and the Spurs’ loss, combined with Rockets and Grizzlies wins, knocked the defending-champion Spurs from second all the way down to sixth on their way to a first-round exit against the Clippers.
Not quite as much is on the line in this game — without Leonard it’s hard to even call the Spurs contenders this season — but in most scenarios a loss will drop the Spurs to the 7th or 8th seed and a first round match-up against either the Rockets or Warriors, while a win will place the Spurs anywhere from 4th to 6th and in a much more favorable first round match-up. But first…
The Spurs must fix their road woes
The Spurs have been horrific on the road for the last two-plus months, going 2-11 since the start of the Rodeo Road Trip. In fact, they haven’t won away from the AT&T Center since a win in Cleveland on February 25. Besides their otherwise stellar defense not being up to snuff, perhaps the biggest issue the Spurs have faced on the road is their inability to close out games. Many of those losses came after they held double-digit leads in the second half, only to blow it at the very end.
Combined with the already low probability that the Spurs will have home-court advantage in the first round (win or lose), losing 12 straight road games heading into the playoffs is certainly not ideal. This is the Spurs’ last chance to figure things out before there’s even more on the line with each passing road loss, so hopefully they will finally find their form before it’s too late.
Vegas prediction: Pelicans by 3.5
Game prediction: Pelicans by 5
For the Pelicans fan’s perspective, visit The Bird Writes.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.