If the New Orleans Pelicans beat LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, they’ll have a great chance of making the NBA Playoffs. How will Willie Green’s team respond in what could be the season-defining matchup?
With a victory over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, the New Orleans Pelicans (33-43, 9th Western Conference) can cut their magic number for an NBA Playoffs Play-in place in half. If the Lakers are eliminated from postseason contention, they will receive no compensation in the form of a high draught pick in the NBA.
For both teams, this may be the season-ending showdown. Willie Green, on the other hand, is gambling with house money while Frank Vogel’s job is on the chopping block.
It’s the New Orleans Pelicans versus the Los Angeles Lakers!
When: Monday, April 1, 2022, at 9:30 p.m. Central Time
When: Currently, in the city of Los Angeles, California Coin Arena.com
Bally Sports NO, ESPN 100.3FM New Orleans to Watch/Listen
Teams’ Anticipated Opening Lineups:
CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, Jaxson Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas make up the Pelicans of New Orleans.
Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, LeBron James, Stanley Johnson, and Anthony Davis are all on the Los Angeles Lakers.
The stakes of this game are too high to ignore. If the Lakers want to save their season and prevent this loss from tarnishing LeBron James’ legacy, they must go to the NBA playoffs. His reputation has been severely damaged when Anthony Davis left the Orlando bubble. If the Lakers lose on April 1st, New Orleans is likely to draught first, making it impossible for Los Angeles to replace its future roster via the draught.
James (ankle) and Davis (foot) will aim to return to the lineup after being listed on the injury report for extended periods of time. Despite a 23-point deficit after the Lakers took an early lead and James scored 39 points in 41 minutes, New Orleans came back and won on Sunday. The Lakers will benefit by playing at home, but the city of Los Angeles has made it clear that they are not happy with this squad.
Willie Green’s team has proven they can remain composed under duress. They have done so ever since they fell into a 1-12 hole to begin the season, thanks to the Lakers’ comeback and Wednesday’s gutsy win in Portland. Having saved the season, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram will strive to maximise their chemistry moving forward.
Modifications will be made by Frank Vogel and Willie Green. If Herb Jones is successful in slowing down Lebron James, he will get another chance to do so. After a first half in which James shot the ball exceptionally well from deep, Jones did a great job of limiting his production. Vogel must devise means by which the other Laker stars can more easily achieve their goals.
James and Davis aren’t the only ones who need to shake off the dust; Ingram (hamstring) and McCollum (health and safety protocols) are, too. Westbrook, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel, and Austin Reeves will primarily be responsible for guarding McCollum and Ingram. Even if LeBron James has another monster game for the Lakers, the Pelicans still have enough depth to win and finish the season unbeaten.
The Pelicans’ bench units will need to be more reliable moving forward. Only four times in the last 15 games has Devonte Graham scored more than three points. Only nine of his 18 attempts at the free throw line came against the Chicago Bulls. New Orleans’ sixth-mark spark plug, Jose Alvarado, has been stepping up recently, but he has to fire cleaner more often.
They need to figure out how to gain Jones some casual attention. Herb’s offensive efforts had stalled. In his last five games, he has shot just 12 percent from the field. On 6/14 he played the Lakers and was the only player to make more than two shots that game.
The Pelicans have won their last two games while the Lakers have lost their last four. The Pelicans have the confidence of the SI Sportsbook to pull off another victory. One could argue that this victory is among the most significant in the franchise’s annals.
Willie Green and the Pelicans need only keep their minds on the task at hand and not let the evening’s events affect them emotionally. After beating McCollum’s Portland Trail Blazers in his homecoming, the Pelicans should be in fine shape.