The 2021-22 NBA regular season has officially come to an end. Before the playoffs get underway, there’s a two seeds in each respective conference up for grabs.
The NBA has implemented a play-in tournament to decide the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference. This gives the top ten teams in the East and West a chance to make it into the postseason.
Each conference will have a short tournament that showcases the eighth through tenth seeds. In a single-game two round event, the seventh and eighth seeds can make the playoffs with one win. The ninth and tenth seeds need to win twice in order to advance to the playoffs.
In the Western Conference, a matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans (No. 9) and San Antonio Spurs (No. 10) will take place on April 13 at 9:30 PM ET.
The winner of this game will advance to the final round of the play-in tournament against the loser of the matchup between the seventh and eighth seed for one final shot to make it into the postseason. The loser will be eliminated and officially begin their offseason.
New Orleans finished the season with a 36-46 record, good for the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference. Over their last ten games, the Pelicans have been .500 which is good relative to the rest of the season.
Getting to the rim often, New Orleans draws a ton of fouls and are top-five in the NBA at getting to the line. The Pelicans should hope this game doesn’t turn into a shootout, as they don’t take or make many shots from beyond the arc.
Since trading for CJ McCollum back in early February, the Pelicans have looked like a different team. Despite being without Zion Williamson, New Orleans has gone 15-14 since that trade occurred.
The Spurs finished the season as the No. 10 seed in the West with a record of 34-47. Winning huge games down the stretch to make the play-in tournament, San Antonio won seven of its final 11 contests.
One of the most well coached teams in the league, the Spurs play very disciplined. This will be important in this game against the Pelicans. On the flip side, they struggle from the free throw line which could be important late in the game if it’s a close contest.
Since the All-Star break, the Spurs have been much improved, being roughly a .500 team since that milestone.
These teams played four times this season, with the Spurs winning the season series 3-1. The Pelicans and Spurs matched up twice in March, splitting those two contests. Outside of the most recent game between these two teams, every outcome was very lopsided.
The duo of McCollum and Brandon Ingram will be fascinating in this matchup. They’ll need to be effective offensively to combat the versatility that Dejounte Murray brings to the Spurs’ offense.