After Monday’s glorious beatdown of the Atlanta Hawks and the Grizzlies’ clutch victory over the Suns, the Pelicans are only one game (!!!) out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. With 34 games left on the schedule, there is still an entire story to be written. All of us watching the team closely have begun to spring with optimism, seeing a team that finally understands each other, with each teammate’s abilities contributing to the success of others.
However, when people talk about the race for the eighth spot, the conversation focuses on two teams: the Phoenix Suns, currently seeded eighth, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, seeded tenth. It’s almost like the media is overlooking the team seeded ninth, the Pelicans. Even though the Pelicans are tied with the Suns in the loss column and are ahead by two games on the Thunder, they are still largely ignored in playoff talk. What, y’all are just gonna give the Thunder all this credit because they have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and multiple years of impressive achievements? Okay, well…ANTHONY DAVIS. That’s my answer to about 94% of questions pertaining to anything, but still. The Pelicans deserve to be talked about! We’re pretty! We want to be included!
Over here in this part of the internet landscape, our twelve readers and I will consider this a three team race. With that in mind, the race may come down to one or two wins…or maybe even zero. Yeah, if multiple teams end with the same record, then we get America’s favorite: A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED TIE BREAKING SCENARIO. Go check out the tie-breaker rules for the NBA playoffs so you can see what the Pelicans are looking at. Head-to-head records are the first line of defense. And here’s the playoffs boner poking out of my NBA jeans: The Pelicans have a head start on both their adversaries for the eighth seed. Let’s check this out these scenarios team by team.
The Pelicans have three games total this year against the Suns, thus there will be no tied head-to-head record. If the teams end up tied for the eight seed, whomever wins the season series will
be offered up as tribute to the godless, blood-drinking hellbeast known as the Warriors advance to the playoffs. The Pelicans are currently up 1-0 courtesy of a 110-106 victory on December 30. Their next matchup is on March 19 in Phoenix, before playing again in New Orleans on April 10 in the 79th game of the year. Depending on what happens before, that last game could prove crucial to determining these teams’ fortunes. Of course, it would be best for the Pels to win both games, as that would help the Pelicans gain a lot of distance in the race. But the Suns are a good team, and expecting to sweep them is wishful thinking. Just splitting the next two would at least give the Pels the tie breaker advantage.
Oklahoma City Thunder
With the Thunder, we’ll know about tie-breakers very soon. The Pelicans are already up 2-0 on Oklahoma City this season. They won 112-104 in Kevin Durant’s first game back before getting a dramatic 101-99 win in Oklahoma City on December 21. However, the season series will be all wrapped up within two days. Tonight, the Pelicans play the Thunder in New Orleans before finishing up the home-and-home with another game on Friday in OKC.
Here is where injuries will play a big role. KD is out for the Thunder tonight. Last I checked, he’s pretty good at basketball, so that’s bad for them. However, the Thunder still have Russell Westbrook, who is a terrifying cocktail of nitroglycerin, dunks and sheer anger. I mean just look at the death stare he gives at his OWN TEAMMATES FOR MISSING A DAP. I almost just shit myself. Anyways, the Pelicans at full health are well-equipped to deal with Westbrook, as they have Jrue Holiday. Holiday is Westbrook’s kryptonite, as he is a calm, heady mega-athlete to Westbrook’s raging, relentless mega-athlete. In that last game, Jrue held Westbrook to 10-27 shooting, including a missed game-winning three point attempt.
Anyways, if the Pelicans could bring out the brooms here and beat an undermanned Thunder team twice in three days, that would be ENORMOUS. They would put the Thunder four games behind New Orleans, and also add two more wins to that elusive 50-win benchmark people have set for the eighth seed. However, if Russ goes supernova and destroys shit, as he is wont to do, the Pelicans could still own a tiebreaker with one win in these next two games.
IF, however, the Pelicans drop both games, we’ve got some problems. First, the Thunder and Pels are again tied in the race, and the tiebreaker would go down to record in the conference. With two losses to OKC, the Pelicans would still be 18-14 compared to the Thunder’s 14-16 record. So, while they would still have the inside edge on a tie-breaker, let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.
San Antonio Spurs
Okay, okay, okay. Now it’s time for #COKEDREAMZ. Pass me that plate, man. Let’s say the Pelicans go on a serious run and start knocking the shit out of teams. As of this writing, the 26-22 Pelicans are four games behind the 30-18 Spurs. If the Pels get for real mega super awesome over the next 34 games, and the Spurs falter a bit, they could push for the seventh spot! Are we likely to see this? NO. Am I gonna say it isn’t possible? NO, BECAUSE ALTRON IS THE ONE TRUE GOD, YOU DOLT.
As of now, the Pelicans are up 2-1 in the series. They should be up 3-0 but OH WAIT SORRY DON’T WANNT TALK ABOUT IT LALALALALALA. Well, the Pelicans and Spurs have one game left. If the birds win, they own the tiebreaker and could sneak into the seventh seed and avoid the Warriors with the same record as San Antonio. Lose, and then it comes down to division record. Fortunately, the Spurs are currently 4-6 against the Southwest, while the Pelicans are the only team in the division with a winning record against their brethren at 6-4. So, the Pels still have the inside track on that tie-breaker, but let’s hope they can just clean up on the Spurs when they meet on April 15.
So, those are the scenarios. Thankfully, the Pelicans have the inside track in almost every situation. However, there is still so much work to be done. Let’s see how it plays out and enjoy the ride. For now, isn’t it fun to be talking about tie-breaking scenarios for the PLAYOFFS?! FLY PELS FLY TO THE POSTSEASON YOU CAN DO IT