Game On: Pelicans at Timberwolves

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Published: April 13, 2015

So here we are. Two games remain in the 2014-15 NBA regular season, with the Pelicans and Thunder tied for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Each team has one “damn well better win” game and one “win and you’re probably in” game remaining. New Orleans plays at Minnesota tonight, while Oklahoma City faces them on Wednesday night. Conversely, the Pelicans host the Spurs on Wednesday night (who will likely be playing for the West’s #2 seed), while the Thunder host the Trail Blazers (not playing for seeding, but desperate to get back on track before the playoffs) tonight. Consider the stage set.

Needless to say, tonight is very nearly a must-win for the Pels. Otherwise, they have to hope that either A) the Thunder lose both games (extremely unlikely) or B) the Thunder split their remaining two games and Pelicans beat the Spurs on Wednesday night (not quite as unlikely, but still pretty unlikely). New Orleans has handled Minnesota pretty well in their three previous meetings this season, but their lone road game was by far their closest match-up of the three, winning by “just” 8 points. However, now that the roster is a Jrue Holiday minutes restriction away from earning the designation of “completely healthy” (knock on all of the wood in your general vicinity), they should be able to continue that winning trend tonight.

Fortunately for the Pelicans, the T-Wolves franchise has little motivation to win, either. The guys who play will obviously play to the best of their ability, but with Minnesota fighting for draft lottery ping pong balls (remember those days, y’all?), expect the key decision-makers to emphasize “letting the young guys get some valuable experience” at this point in the season. The T-Wolves are currently tied with the Knicks for the worst record in the NBA, and they certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that standing.

With three games of data between these two teams so far this season, it would make sense that we could start to see the driving factors that should help the Pelicans take down the Timberwolves tonight. However, with Pekovic, Rubio, Dieng, Martin, Bennett, Muhammad and Neal out (+ Garnett doubtful & Hummel questionable), this is an even worse Minnesota team than it was earlier this year. The T-Wolves’ starting lineup for the past few games has been LaVine, Martin, Wiggins, Payne, & Hamilton (yes, the same guy the Pelicans waived in early March). As long as the Pelicans defend the perimeter and own the glass, they should cruise tonight. This T-Wolves team will beat themselves if you let them. 

Enjoy the game, and try not to scoreboard-watch too much!

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