The San Antonio Spurs are used to making the playoffs as among the top teams in the West. But it’s a different story now, as they have to go through the Play-in tournament to make the final eight cut in their conference. Standing in their way are the New Orleans Pelicans, who have playoff dreams of their own.
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Away: San Antonio Spurs
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Dejounte Murray
- SG: Devin Vassell
- SF: Josh Richardson
- PF: Keldon Johnson
- C: Jakob Poeltl
The Spurs have something to prove. San Antonio feels it belongs in the playoffs even though the Spurs finished the regular season with a losing record, 34-48. The Spurs made their slate even worse by losing their final three assignments before the Play-in state kicked in. While they are not expected to go deep in the playoffs – if they even get past New Orleans – the Spurs definitely have what it takes to beat the Pelicans. After all, they have done that three times in four meetings with Brandon Ingram and company back in the regular season.
That includes the most recent showdown between these teams, with San Antonio scoring a 107-103 victory in the Big Easy on Mar. 27th. In those four games, the Spurs averaged just 108.5 points on 44.7 FG% and shot only 29.5 3FG%. Even when San Antonio was not hitting their season numbers against the Pels, the Spurs were still able to come up with victories – a positive sign for Gregg Popovich’s team that’s pretty much turned New Orleans into a personal sanctuary. The Spurs have won 6 of their last 7 visits to New Orleans, while also covering the spread in all those outings.
Home: New Orleans Pelicans
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: C.J. McCollum
- SG: Herbert Jones
- SF: Brandon Ingram
- PF: Jaxson Hayes
- C: Jonas Valanciunas
Like the Spurs, the Pelicans are entering the Play-in portion of the season coming off losses, as they lost their last two games to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors. However, Brandon Ingram missed both games and the last three Pelicans outings overall because of reported right hamstring tightness. That lower-body issue is seemingly miraculously healed now, with Ingram expected to play this Thursday in a must-win game versus the Spurs. Ingram is second on the team with 22.7 points on 46.1 FG% while CJ McCollum paces all Pelicans with 24.3 points per game with the team.
Those two are going to carry the bulk of the Pelicans’ offense that finished the regular season averaging 14.3 points per game in transition. The Pelicans’ fastbreak attack is being fueled by their rebounding. With Jonas Valanciunas dominating the glass, the Pels are able to rank seventh in defensive rebound rate and third in offensive rebound percentage. Also think about the fact that the Pelicans have limited Spurs star Dejounte Murray to just 18.3 points on a horrid 40.3 FG% and 26.3 3FG% in the regular season as well as the concern that Murray might not still be 100% after recently dealing with an illness. The Pelicans have covered the spread in five of their last six games after a loss.
Spread: The Spurs continue their dominance of New Orleans, as they send the Pels home. Popovich can be trusted in the playoffs. Taking the Spurs to cover (+5.5).
Over/Under: The Under is 8-2 in the last 10 games (3-1 this season and 2-0 in last two) between the Spurs and the Pelicans, dating back to 2019. Taking the Under 226 here.