With a record of 43-31 in the Western Conference standings, the New Orleans Pelicans remain firmly inside the playoff picture, sitting a mere half a game out of fielding home court advantage in the first round.
Having beaten them twice in three tries, New Orleans enjoys its current advantage over the San Antonio Spurs despite sporting the same record. However, this tiebreaker still remains up for grabs as these two teams will meet in the final game of the regular season. New Orleans will probably have to win that April 11 matchup too because tying the season series at two games apiece would likely go in favor of San Antonio as they presently have stronger division and conference records.
As we learned three years ago, tiebreakers are quite important. Since the Pelicans owned one against the Thunder, they advanced to the 2015 playoffs even though New Orleans and Oklahoma City had the same 45-37 record.
With five teams separated by just a game and a half, expect tiebreakers to factor significantly for the Pelicans again. Precisely one month ago, they were tied with the Trail Blazers for fifth. Two months ago — on the infamous day that DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season — the Pelicans were in back of the Thunder by a game but ahead of Portland by half a game. Thus, it seems probable that several teams will finish with the same record, just as FiveThirtyEight is predicting.
Between notable players suffering from injuries to teams posting extended winning streaks to so many individual matchups being decided on the final possession, don't expect the 2018 playoff seedings to be decided until the final day of the regular season. Although they’ve sat inside the playoff bubble for some time now, the New Orleans Pelicans should try to remain on the same pace so as to not only seize a favorable first round matchup but to just make the big dance.