The Pelicans are back in action tonight, and with 25 games left to go what do they need to do to make the playoffs?
Jake: The answer to this could be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. But realistically, the Pelicans need to find a way to keep Anthony Davis motivated to keep playing like he did over the most recent 3 game winning streak (or he just needs to motivate himself). And they need to try and keep guys as fresh as possible–which is going to be tough. The main guys on the team have been playing heavy minutes all season long, and with 5 games in 6 days coming up there is a chance they run out of steam and lose ground in what should be a very close playoff race.
Luis: Not lose.
Alex: Lose fewer times than the Clippers and Jazz/Nuggets.
And that’s going to mean playing fast, like 7 seconds or less Suns fast (or at least today’s version of that since even the slowest teams in today’s NBA have a faster pace). If the Pels want to go beyond just making the playoffs and actually make a run, Davis will need to have some energy. So the Pels will need the bench to step up and support him. Gentry did a great job of spreading minutes around during the 3 game win streak and the Pels played at a faster pace than every other team.
Rory: Ride Anthony Davis. It seems like the obvious answer because it is the only answer. Using smart rotations to maximize the strengths of Holiday, Rondo, Moore, Miller, and Mirotic is vital, but the Pelicans’ postseason hopes live or die on Davis. Alvin Gentry needs to adequately motivate Davis to take the lead and be selfish with the ball when necessary. Demarcus Cousins is irreplaceable, but Davis is still the best player on the court most nights. The Pelicans need to play to that advantage without overburdening Davis’s minutes.
Luis (again): I’m being told that “Not lose.” Isn’t enough “analysis”. So I’ll add in that Dell needs to find his free agent that makes us all say “See, Dell found another player to contribute at the end of the year”. Whether it’s Walter Lemon, another G-League/Free Agent player, or someone that’s gonna get bought out, the Pellies could use the hungry guy that infuses them with energy. I’m a bit worried that the team is gonna be fried by the end of the year, and whoever this player or players is should help to curb that.
Jason: “Not lose” isn’t as horrible as it seems for analysis. With eight teams so close together in the Western Conference standings, and with the NBA schedule certainly not doing New Orleans any favors, the margin for error is as small as it’s been in recent memory. So the Pelicans need to find consistency, no longer losing to lottery teams that have given them way too much trouble so far this season. This starts, as Rory said, with Anthony Davis. If Davis can consistently turn in superstar performances, it should at least spell a playoff berth. At this point, the Pelicans control their own destiny. Consistency has been probably the most difficult thing for the Pelicans to achieve the last several seasons, but it needs to be a focal point for the home stretch this season if they want to even sniff the playoffs in the competitive West.
Luis (again): But seriously…don’t lose.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think the Pelicans need to do to make the playoffs in the comments below!