Do or die in New Orleans
At its most base level, sports are about drama, not unlike TV soap operas or the latest blockbuster extravaganza. With both shows and sports, no fan willingly wants to be bored.
On that note, the New Orleans Pelicans four-game losing streak can be seen as a good thing. I mean, who wants to take the easy road to the playoffs when you can sweat it out and bite your nails until the very last game of the regular season? Right?
With that said, it is officially do or die time for the Pelicans.
It was a different world last week when the Pelicans looked comfortably situated at the five seed of the Western Conference. Three excruciatingly close losses later, after a blowout loss to the Houston Rockets, has the Pelicans desperately clinging to the eighth and final seed of the playoffs.
The Pelicans (43-34) have a slim one game lead over the Denver Nuggets (42-35) for the last spot in the NBA playoffs. On the other hand, they are only one game out of sixth and two games behind the San Antonio Spurs (45-32) for the fourth seed, which would give the Pelicans home court advantage in the first series of the playoffs. This next week could really go a lot of different ways.
It’s setting up to be a wild finish with only five games remaining in the regular season.
The Next Two Games
It is absolutely imperative to win the next two games. The Pelicans face the two worst teams in the league in the Memphis Grizzlies (21-56) and Phoenix Suns (19-59). If the Pelicans are a real playoff team they will sweep these games. Splitting these two games could set the team up for failure right at the finish line. If disaster strikes and the Pelicans lose both of these games their season will likely be over. Not that they couldn’t still make the playoffs but it will be asking a lot of the basketball gods.
In other words, just feed the ball to Anthony Davis. Believe me, Phoenix is not looking forward to playing Davis again, after he lit them up for 53 points the last time out.
Then It Gets Really Real
The Pelicans then will move on to the final stretch, playing teams that are in the playoffs or fighting for the playoffs.
On Saturday, the Pelicans will travel to play Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. The Warriors have dominated the Pelicans, having won 10 in a row, over the past three seasons. While most of the games have been fun high-scoring affairs we’ll have to chalk this one up as a loss.
But, in a scenario that should get Pelicans’ fans salivating, the Warriors are absolutely locked into the second seed of the West. So, with only a handful of games remaining, could Golden State start resting players? Here’s to watching the game and only seeing Curry on the bench taking a much-deserved rest.
Two nights later, the Pelicans will head down the coast to take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a massive showdown that could send the losing team home for the spring. The Clippers are tenth in the West but only trail New Orleans by two games. With a head-to-head win playing out like a two-game swing this game is going to be on fire. This is the time of the year where NBA teams actually start playing defense.
The Big Finale
No matter what, absolutely no matter what, the Smoothie King Center should be packed for the last game of the regular season versus the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are going to the playoffs but will still likely be playing for playoff position.
That sets up a scenario where the Pelicans might be playing for their playoff lives just like in 2014 when they beat the San Antonio Spurs at the Smoothie King Center in the last game of the year to qualify for the playoffs. It seems sometimes these stories just write themselves.
Here’s to a strong finish and getting some playoff basketball back in the Crescent City!
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
“Beer” Pairing: Port Orleans Brewing’s “Sean Playton’s Blonde” Ale
Playlist Recommendation: Survivor – "Eye of the Tiger"
Around the Way
What a week for the New Orleans Privateers (13-15) baseball team. Right when the Privateers looked unsteady they travel to South Alabama and beat the ranked Jaguars 8-2. After the big victory in Mobile, Alabama the Privateers went on the road and swept Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the three games to complete the undefeated week.
The Privateers travel to Uptown tonight to take on the beleaguered Tulane Green Wave (12-17) at 6:30 P.M.