Though nothing is certain (including the Pelicans playoff chances), what is your ideal first round matchup? And, other than the Rockets and Warriors, who do you want the Pelicans to avoid?
Bonus Question: Which Pelicans player would look cutest dressed up as a bunny?
Jake: Honestly, I’d feel okay (not great) about any matchup with Portland, Oklahoma City, or San Antonio. The Pelicans have played all of those teams well so far this season. Out of all of them I think the Pelicans have the best chance of winning a first round series with the Thunder. Offensively, the Thunder are very predictable and the Pelicans have done well in isolation defense this year. That should allow the Pelicans to get stops in the run of play and push in transition for easy offense–which is a way to negate the strong defense the Thunder play.
I’d be thrilled if the Pelicans avoided the the Jazz in the first round. Rudy Gobert does a great job defensively against Anthony Davis, and if Davis is ineffective I don’t see this first round matchup going in the Pelicans favor.
Bonus: I think Cheick Diallo is the choice. He bounces all over the court so it’s a natural fit!
Jason: I would prefer some sort of 4-5 matchup with the Spurs. Assuming that Kawhi Leonard doesn’t come back, they’re probably the only team that has less overall talent than the Pels (even if the talent level of the Spurs never seems to matter due to the Popovich effect). As far as teams I want to avoid, I’ve become increasingly more afraid of the Trail Blazers. They seem like one of the weaker 3-seeds we’ve seen in a while, but their backcourt duo is formidable, and the roster overall is well-coached and more talented than almost every other West team. I’d prefer a matchup with them to one of the top-2 seeds, but it still has the potential to be ugly.
Bonus: We’ve seen Emeka Okafor pull off the look of the Spongebob jersey fabulously. For his next act, a cute bunny costume should prove to be no challenge at all.
Raby: Of all the available teams, the Pels match up best with the Thunder or Spurs. I’ll pick Thunder because I think it would be a more fun series with Westbrook and the Brow both taking over games. The main team I would want the Pelicans to avoid is the Jazz, who gives the team fits and has been playing as well as any Western Conference team lately.
Bonus: Ian Clark. Just ‘cause.
Luis: It’s funny, I usually think of myself sort of above petty fandom, and I promise I won’t actually say anything if it goes the Pellies way, I’ll just give that look that’s like “Hmm, would you look at that there. How very, very interesting the way that turned out.” and you’ll all know what I mean. I need Jazz vs Pels. Yes they’ve been really good since the break, only losing 5. Yes Gobert is probably gonna be DPOY and Mitchell ROY. Yes Quinn Snyder is one of the better coaches in the league according to my own very scientific poll. But at the end of the day, AD is exactly the type of big man to give Gobert trouble and at the end of the day, their second best player (who has looked very good) is still a rookie and rookies rookie all the time. I think it’d be fun. Plus the you know, I love smack talk.
I also do not want the Pels to face the Blazers at all. In the playoffs, having the best player can make up for a lot of things and while yes, Davis is better in a vacuum, Dame Lillard has been absolutely on a tear that rivals AD’s to finish the year. They have a handful of decent wings to throw on the court. Terry Stotts is underrated. CJ McCollum could catch fire. Nurk has that face. It just has all the makings of a series that will end in heartbreak.
Bonus: Don’t care. I’m calling the bunny costume a hare costume instead, and absolutely making them race Rajon Rondo because of that whole “he kinda looks like a turtle thing.” I promise you it’s a thing and it’s hilarious.