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Pelicans look to get past Blazers and move step closer to hosting first play-in game

New Orleans can’t afford a let down against Portland

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Three games remain and the New Orleans Pelicans are neck and neck with the San Antonio Spurs to earn the right to host the 9-10 matchup of the Western Conference play-in tournament.

While the Spurs have the more difficult remaining schedule, they’ve won seven of their last eight. So with possessing a mere one-game lead over them, it’s imperative for the Pelicans to beat the Trail Blazers tonight.

Portland shouldn’t pose much of a threat, having won just twice in their last 18. One of those defeats came at the hands of the Pelicans last week, but the contest was closer than expected. Midway through the fourth quarter, New Orleans led by only four points. Fortunately, a 117-107 victory was achieved.

This time around, don’t expect near the same amount of nail-biting moments. The Pels, after sleeping in their own beds, will be in front of their home crowd. Additionally, CJ McCollum isn’t going to be asked to play in front of long-time fans for the first time following a trade.

With a slew of Portland’s best out again — and likely engaged in banter somewhere, the biggest individual threats to New Orleans will be Trendon Watford, Drew Eubanks and Ben McLemore. Brandon Williams is questionable to play with a left quad contusion.

Over their last 12 games, the Pelicans have compiled an 8-4 record, boasting a defense that ranks fourth during this stretch. Aiding that cause, New Orleans has been the best rebounding team in the league (53.5 REB%). They’ve also done a good job of keeping easy transition scores to a minimum and limiting opponent points in the paint.

A play-in tournament appearance is now a certainty for the Pelicans but not the right to host its first game. Beating the Blazers improves the odds of that happening. Let’s Geaux!

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (35-44) vs Portland Trail Blazers (27-52)

When: April 7, 2022, 7:00 p.m.

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, League Pass

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.