This was proven true during the 2007-08 (2-2), 2008-09 (2-2), 2010-11 (2-2), 2014-15 (3-1) and 2017-18 (3-1) campaigns.
For those curious, the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons also resulted in playoff trips but are not as relevant to this discussion because a fledging New Orleans organization was in the East at the time, facing San Antonio only twice on the schedule with being in a different conference.
Well, the Pelicans have a 1-2 record against the Spurs thus far this season. Another win or loss will be added in mere hours. If the happy outcome is achieved, no one could be blamed for prematurely opening their favorite bottle of champagne.
A victory would give New Orleans a 3-game lead over San Antonio in the Western Conference standings, but in reality the cushion would feel larger. Although the season series would be split 2-2, the Pelicans would be in great position to earn the tiebreaker. (New Orleans would have a 7-8 record within the division; San Antonio, 4-9.)
In effect, the Pelicans could be just days away from being up even more on their closest pursuer not currently slotted into one of the Play-In spots with nine contests remaining.
The Spurs face the Rockets and Grizzlies immediately after the Pelicans on their schedule. A loss to either when combined with a Pels victory on Saturday would guarantee the tiebreaker to New Orleans.
The oddsmakers are listing the Pelicans as 6.5-point favorites. The optimism is nice, but New Orleans may still be without Brandon Ingram. Although his status was upgraded from doubtful to questionable, that doesn’t guarantee we’ll see him.
The Spurs are also arriving on a two-game winning streak after edging out the Warriors and beating down the Trail Blazers. And with the Pelicans destroying the Spurs by a final score of 124-91 in San Antonio last week, Willie Green expects for them to be especially locked-in.
“The way we beat them in San Antonio,” the New Orleans head coach said yesterday after practice. “I’m sure they’ve watched film on it. I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments. We definitely expect San Antonio to come and be locked in for the game. As we mentioned to our team, they have something to play for but so do we. We have to go out and do it again, but at an even higher level and that’s going to be the key for the game.”
This weekend is the most important one of the season. The Pelicans can separate themselves from the Spurs by a wide margin with a lone victory today and then grab the tiebreaker over the Lakers tomorrow. Notch two wins and the dream of entering the Play-In tournament as the nine seed grows exponentially.
Biggest weekend of the year.— The Pels 12 (@ThePels12) March 26, 2022
It’s game day. Let’s pack the blender. Pack the bars. Pack the spaces. Pack the streets.
Pels 12 vs The World, yall ⚜️ pic.twitter.com/HKn4MkHkwF
If you haven’t purchased tickets yet — and don’t forget about the Chalk Talk event prior to the game against the Spurs, get to it! Meaningful basketball is here so join in on all the fun and help make The Blender as loud as it was during the last Pels playoff run!!
When: March 26, 2022, 4:00 p.m.
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, League Pass
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM