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The Pelicans are hoping a great final week can allow the team to sneak in to this year’s play-in tournament.
The hope now for Zion Williamson’s squad is to somehow make the Western Conference play-in tournament without their young star. Williamson is out indefinitely with a finger injury, and fans are likely panicking. But a close win over the Charlotte Hornets on Mother’s Day put the Pelicans 1.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 10 seed.
Is it possible for New Orleans to pull off the feat?
Pelicans need some help from Spurs opponents
Let’s look at the schedules. The Pelicans now have four games remaining, with the first three on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. Their regular-season finale is Sunday in New Orleans against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs still have five games to go as they pack in the action during the final week of the season. The first three are all top contenders in the East in the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. The Spurs then finish the year with back-to-back home games against the Phoenix Suns over the weekend.
There are no automatic wins for either team next week. However, the Spurs do have what appears to be a tougher slate and still have that one game to make up. New Orleans is only one win behind San Antonio in the standings.
The problem for Williamson’s squad is the Spurs do own the season tiebreaker. But an 0-3 start to the week against those top East teams would inspire plenty of hope down in Louisiana, especially since San Antonio has lost six of its last seven games.
Questions also remain with teams like the Lakers and Suns in terms of who will play down the stretch. Decisions made by other head coaches will go a long way in determining the No. 10 and final seed in the Western Conference.
The Spurs collapsing may be what it takes if the Pelicans are without Williamson and potentially Brandon Ingram down the stretch. New Orleans being without its stars would not make for a long playoff run. However, it would still be fun for fans to see some postseason basketball after a two-year playoff drought.