The New Orleans Pelicans come into the final days of the 2022-23 NBA season as the most intriguing team of the bunch. Unlike most of the other playoff/Play-In hopefuls, NOLA has a wide range of possibilities depending on how the games go. They can go from fifth (!!!) to ninth in the standings: quite a big jump, yes. With that in mind, let’s look at what the Pelicans need to hope for in order to make the playoffs.
Updated Western Conference Playoff and Play-In scenarios through today’s games.
Seeds 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 pic.twitter.com/RBf48BWeHP
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 9, 2023
First off, let’s get the obvious part out of the way: the Pelicans NEED to win their game against the Timberwolves. Losing that game would lock them into the ninth seed, where they will need two straight wins to advance to the playoffs. That’s the nightmare scenario for them.
If they do win against the Wolves, things get a lot more interesting. The worst the Pelicans can reach is now eighth, which can happen if the Clippers, Warriors, and Lakers win. Their best possible finish is fifth, which is possible as long as the Suns and the Blazers win. The Pels can also get the seventh seed if the Clippers win and either the Lakers and Blazers win, or if the Clips, Jazz, and Warriors win.
A good consolation prize for the Pelicans is the sixth seed, which at least guarantees them a playoff berth. This scenario hinges on the Lakers-Jazz game heavily. If LA takes that game, the only way for New Orleans to get #6 is if the Warriors and Suns win. If Utah wins, though, they need either the Warriors and Suns to win, or the Clippers and Blazers to win.
It’s a complicated scenario, but the Pelicans will take that after this disastrous season. Zion Williamson’s injury put them into a tailspin. They eventually course-corrected, but the damage was done. Now, they are virtually in a must-win game.
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