Spurs are favored by five points tonight at the Smoothie King Center. They are also fighting for the two seed in the Western Conference. They are also the reigning champs of the basketball world. They have also won 11 games in a row.
But they aren’t fighting for their lives and aren’t one win away from making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The complexity of the Western Conference Playoff standings is so difficult that I had to run to Reddit to gather all the scenarios. Simplified, Pels advance with a victory against the Spurs, which is possible, or an OKC loss to the Timberwolves, which is incredibly unlikely.
The Pelicans won Monday night in Minnesota 100-88. Anthony Davis went for 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in the victory. With that win the Pelicans were one step closer to paradise, yet the Thunder managed to beat Portland causing the fate of the playoff dream to come down to one final game.
With a win, the Spurs will finish as the No. 2 seed. With a loss, the Spurs could drop as far as the No. 6 seed. This isn’t necessarily a “must-win” scenario for the Spurs, but this game definitely garners significant weight.
The New Orleans Pelicans have won two out of three meetings with the Spurs this year and the lone loss was when Omer Asik inadvertently tipped in the winning basket in his own basket. In these three meetings, Anthony Davis has averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game.
This could very well be a “make-or-break” game for perennial hot seat head coach Monty Williams. In an interview with ESPN, Williams said, “We get to play the champs on our home floor, our crowd should be crazy and our guys should have a good time with it.”
Keys to the Game:
Out rebound and out hustle the Spurs. Pelicans front court of Davis and Asik need to grab both offensive and defensive boards and limit the Spurs to one and done possessions in order to win this game. Limit Duncan’s touches and keep San Antonio big men off of the offensive glass.
Keep Tony Parker out of the lane. Tony Parker will get the likes of Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole and hopefully Jrue Holiday tonight. Monty Williams does a good job of rotating able defenders to neutralize opposing stars. Pels must create physical match-ups with Tony Parker and keep him from getting our bigs in foul trouble or slicing through the lane for easy layups.
Ryan Anderson needs to hit shots early. The Flamethrower has been in somewhat of a shooting slump since his return. He has all the right offensive moves and footwork but needs to cash in with big buckets early to gain confidence. Also, Ryno, if you’re reading this, take a step closer and toe the three point line. There has been way too many opportunities wasted when a wide open three pointer comes up short simply because it is shot from four feet beyond the arc.
The crowd must be in every possession and supporting the Pelicans for the entirety of the game. Don’t get too low, don’t get too high. Know that the Spurs are one of the best teams in basketball. The crowd must have a playoff like atmosphere and will hopefully be close to full capacity.
Come support the Pelicans for their final game of the regular season. They will take on the San Antonio Spurs at 7pm.