The New Orleans Pelicans were not supposed to make the playoffs. Every significant power ranking outlet put the Pelicans out of the playoffs before the season started, ranking as low as 20th in the league according the SB Nation. The brilliant folks over at Nylon Calculus (and that is a sincere compliment) put the Pelican win total between 37 and 40. The "best case" scenario according to Ricky O'Donnell for SB Nation was that the Pelicans made the playoffs. Vegas did not have an over-under line on Pelican wins higher than 44.
Remember, none of these projections expected another wave of injuries. Jrue Holiday missed another 42 games due to a stress reaction. Ryan Anderson missed 21 thanks to an MCL sprain. Eric Gordon missed 21 with a torn labrum that he courageously battled back from rather than end his season with surgery. Anthony Davis missed 14 games and left another three games in the first half due to a variety of injuries. No Pelican played in all 82 games.
Still with all of this the Pelicans exceeded all projections and expectations, winning 45 games. Thanks in large part to injuries in Oklahoma City 45 games, and one incredible shot to get the tie breaker, were all that were needed to make the playoffs this season.
So we say thank you.
Thank you to the New Orleans Pelicans for battling every single night. For never giving up even as everyone tried to write you off. Thank you to the Fox Sports New Orleans staff for providing excellent coverage of this team, coverage which has continued to improve as the season has gone on. Joel Meyers for every "AD!" call. David Wesley for being the inner voice of Eric Gordon after every missed call. Jen Hale, Erin Hartigan, and Stephen Howard for the pre-game and in-game interviews and analysis.
Thank you to the radio folks; Sean Kelly, John DeShaizer, and Daniel Sallerson for the broadcasts while we are away from our televisions. Thank you for the Black & Blue report every day at lunch. Thank you to the front office for brilliant in-season pick ups of Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter, and Norris Cole.
Thank you to the players and coaches. You embody a city that is often battered but refusing to relent. You are quirky with your mis-matched suits (Monty Williams), 1990's game (Tyreke Evans), or love of unique facial hair (Anthony Davis). That fits us and our city just fine. Thank you for 11 more wins than last year. Thank you for four extra games to lose our voices.
Thank you Pelicans.