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Pelicans clinch 9th, have options for regular season finale against Warriors

How will Willie Green approach tonight’s matchup?

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

The Play-In Tournament is set: the New Orleans Pelicans, as the ninth seed in the Western Conference, will host the 10th-seeded San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at 8:30 p.m. inside the Smoothie King Center.

The only thing that needed to transpire over the final two regular season games was a single New Orleans victory or a San Antonio defeat. Although the Pelicans were smashed by the Grizzlies yesterday, the Warriors knocked off the Spurs.

With that important box checked, Willie Green has options for the home finale against the Warriors tonight.

  • Rest key players instead of having them play in a meaningless game in the standings
  • Use Sunday’s matchup as a tuneup for the play-in, especially with the team coming off a dreadful loss to the Grizzlies

Solid arguments exist for the selection of either choice, but my vote goes towards inactivity.

Over the last several weeks, more than a few Pelicans either missed games or were listed as questionable for various injuries: Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte’ Graham, Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. It feels prudent to not put anyone at needless risk, especially those not operating at 100%.

The Warriors, on the other hand, are entering tonight’s matchup with perhaps something to play for. They hold a one-game edge over the Mavericks, but Dallas owns the tiebreaker. If they beat the Pels, they’re assured of facing the Nuggets in the first round, but more importantly, of avoiding the Suns until the Western Conference finals.

While Stephen Curry will sit, Klay Thompson is expected to return to the court after missing Golden State’s contest in San Antonio.

For those pondering whether Zion Williamson makes his first appearance of the season tonight, the odds of that occurring seem nonexistent. He sat out the last team practice on Friday, per Christian Clark of Nola.com.

Juvie and Mannie Fresh, though, are a go as the halftime act and will be worth the price of admission alone.

So, be sure to come to the Smoothie King Center to celebrate the Pelicans for their remarkable accomplishment on Sunday evening. Because the next time we watch them play in person, it’ll be all game faces as the stakes will be ridiculously high. Beat the Spurs to fight another day or lose and go home for the summer.

Everyone in New Orleans wants to postpone the latter outcome for as long as possible.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (36-45) vs Golden State Warriors (52-29)

When: April 10, 2022, 8:30 p.m.

Where to watch: TNT

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

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.