The New Orleans Pelicans finish the regular season with their final road game in Sacramento before closing at home against Golden State on Tuesday night.
What began as a disastrous turn of events has shifted to a new hope of a top-four lottery selection and an embarrassment of richest if the Pelicans incoming general manager can pull off a coup for Anthony Davis.
Since falling to the Pelicans (121-118) on March 28th, the Kings have lost three of their five games, albeit to the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. In our matchup, the Kings simply had no answer for Julius Randle, who finished with 34 points on 25 shots along with 11 rebounds.
The dynamic backcourt of Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox combined for 57 points on 43 shots in a tidy 70 minutes, but those numbers were offset by recently acquired Christian Wood’s breakout performance with 27 points on just 16 shots, nine rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
Wood has been padding his stats in the absence of Davis and Holiday, among others, pouring in a ridiculous 25.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 2.1 steals on 59.6% shooting from the field per 36 minutes over the past five games.
While Randle and Wood promise to bring the pain yet again, the list of walking wounded almost exceeds the number of players available on Sunday night.
Frank Jackson is a significant loss for the Pelicans. While he hasn’t been efficient from the field (41%), he’s knocked in a stolid 37.5% of his three-point attempts. The Pelicans desperately need any offense, down to 29th in the NBA with an offensive rating of 104.8 over the last 15 games.
The Pelicans will need those contributions from Elfrid Payton, Ian Clark and Cheick Diallo in his absence.
Marvin Bagley III, Harrison Barnes and Willie Cauley-Stein stand to offer the most resistance outside of Buddy and Fox. And that resistance will be welcomed by a Pelican fanbase hungry for yet another loss.
While the Pelicans probably can’t drop below the sixth-slotted Mavericks with 31 wins (Pelicans hold tiebreaker), a win could move them from seventh to ninth, with a 29.6% to 20% difference in top-four selecting odds. It would take two victories in their remaining three games against Memphis, Phoenix and San Antonio and two consecutive losses by the Pelicans to both these Kings and the Warriors.
Expect plenty of scoring from the Kings (113.8 points per game), especially in transition (first). The Kings are second best in the NBA at creating turnovers and are eighth at protecting the basketball. The Pelicans will have to be both efficient and aggressive in the paint and from deep to upset the Kings once more.
Let’s geaux, Pels?!
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (32-48) at Sacramento Kings (39-41)
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
When: Sunday, April 7, 2019. 8:00 PM CST
How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO