The race for eighth is in full swing. If the NBA playoffs started today, the Denver Nuggets would be in the postseason while the 9-15 seeds watched from their televisions. That might not be the case for long. The Portland Trailblazers are one game back of Denver and the Mavericks are two games behind. Most will assume either of these teams will catch the Nuggets or they predict that Denver will retain the spot, but there is another team people should not rule out. The New Orleans Pelicans have a chance.
The Pelicans have not lived up to expectations, whether it be from injuries or chemistry. However, they are putting together a nice stretch to keep their playoff hopes alive. New Orleans has won five of their six games and Gentry believes this is the best basketball the team has played all season. He’s right.
The story all season has been how Anthony Davis is constantly having to carry the workload for the Pelicans. But the last couple of games have been different. Davis played tremendous basketball early in the month. However, a 30-point outing from Solomon Hill lifted the New Orleans Pelicans in a win over the Rockets. Also, a 41 point, 17 rebound performance from Cousins against the Grizzlies led them to a third straight win. Do not forget the late addition of Jordan Crawford. He has provided a nice punch for the Pelicans’ second unit and they have been 5-3 since his signing.
Here is the clear issue. The New Orleans Pelicans are four games behind the Nuggets for the eighth seed. Here is the positive. The Pelicans still play Denver three more times before the season ends. The Nuggets play eight of their last eleven games on the road. They are 13-20 on the road this season.
The Blazers present the greatest roadblock to the Pelicans. They have won seven of their last ten and their schedule is not all too bad the rest of the way. Their last game of the season will come at home against the New Orleans Pelicans. At this rate, it could determine who gets the final postseason spot.
Realistically, the Pelicans can only afford to lose two or three more games. Never doubt a team that has two of the best big men in the NBA. New Orleans is coming together at the right time. They are showing people what they are going to be like next season with Cousins. Do not look at next season right now. It is safe to say the New Orleans Pelicans are not out of the conversation for the eighth seed, even though they currently are the 11th seed with a record of 30-41.
Anthony Davis will continue to affect the game, whether on offense or defense. Cousins is finding his way on the team and the second unit is showing signs of life. People are already looking towards next season for the Pelicans. but do not count them out just yet. Playoffs are a real possibility.