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SBN Reacts: Pelicans’ division rivals to battle top-seeded Jazz in first round of 2021 playoffs

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No one’s advocating Grizzlies fandom in New Orleans, but watching Ja Morant is just plain good fun when Zion Williamson isn’t available

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Memphis Grizzlies v Utah Jazz Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged in New Orleans Pelicans fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

For all playoff teams trying to take home the NBA championship, every game is of significant importance. While a seven-game series provides for more cushion than the play-in tournament, it’s not a guarantee that all favorites survive every step of the way.

According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, for instance, fans around the league thought that the Golden State Warriors had the best chance of making it to the playoffs in the Western Conference, with 81 percent believing the team would have won one of their games.

Of course, things didn’t go according to plan. The Warriors narrowly fell to the Lakers and then were eliminated by the Grizzlies in overtime on Friday. Looking ahead, many feel that the Jazz might be the biggest winners.

While Ja Morant is a rising star in this league, the two players who received the most press in the Western Conference play-in were Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Nearly three-fourths of fans favored Curry in an elimination game than James and Utah doesn’t have to face either, at least for the time being.

LeBron didn’t have to walk the play-in gauntlet, but Steph did. Despite Curry pouring in 39 points, the Warriors came up short and now their 2020-21 season is as over as the Pelicans’.

On the flip side, the Grizzlies received a feather in their cap and their reward is an invitation to score over Rudy Gobert. The Jazz star was the top pick among fans, with 49 percent of the vote, to win Defensive Player of the Year.

As for the Eastern Conference, fans did, however, correctly pick the Wizards and Celtics to advance to the playoffs.

The Hornets loss ended their season, but it’s not the end of exciting times in Charlotte. Point guard LaMelo Ball was picked by 52 percent of NBA fans as the player who should win the Rookie of the Year award. Ball beat out Minnesota Timberwolves’ top pick Anthony Edwards 36 percent and Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton who earned 12 percent.

To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.