Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Win And You’re In: Kings-Pelicans Preview

CJ McCollum and De'Aaron Fox are two key players in the Kings-Pelicans matchup.

Before diving into the Kings-Pelicans play-in game tonight, let’s dive into the past. The date was April 15, 1996. The Miami Heat throttled the then New Jersey Nets 110-90. For all intents and purposes, it was an unimportant game. However, there was a slight significance behind it all.

With that victory, the Heat staked their claim in the season series against the Nets with a staggering five wins to their zero. For the 28 seasons that followed, not a single team would accomplish that feat again. Almost 28 years to the day, it was not until last week on April 11 that the New Orleans Pelicans finally ascended among the Heat’s rarefied air. Beating Sacramento wire-to-wire the Kings only wire-to-wire loss of the season, the last team in the league to have lost in that fashion — 135-123, the Pelicans claimed the season series with vigor.

Five wins, zero losses, history. Yet, fate is ironic, after all these teams have been through, they will face each other one final time for all the marbles. For the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Win, and you’re in. Whatever happened in the last five matchups no longer matters. The only thing that matters is the 48 minutes to be played tonight. The matchup tonight between Sacramento and New Orleans is simply par for the course. It is simply fate.

Pelicans-Kings Play-In: Tonight’s Preview

Tonight cannot be discussed without first discussing what took place Tuesday night. In the midst of single-handedly willing the Pelicans back into the game against the Lakers, Zion Williamson landed the wrong way coming down after making the bucket that marked his 40th and final point of the evening. He came down and never came back. We know now he will not be coming back for at least a couple of weeks with a left hamstring injury.

Fear not, though, New Orleans. Going back only three months, the Pelicans have been tested in these waters before against the Kings. On January 7, without Zion in the fold, the Pelicans beat down the Kings comprehensively 133-100 in Sacramento. On the flip side, Sacramento is nursing some injuries of their own. Malik Monk is sidelined with an MCL injury. An injury that may cost him his chances at winning Sixth Man of the Year. One of their better shooters, Kevin Huerter, is out for the season with a torn left labrum.

Respectively, both teams have been snakebitten at the worst possible time. Nevertheless, there will be plenty of star power in this matchup. All-Stars like Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, Brandon Ingram. The 2016 MIP and perennial 20-point scorer, CJ McCollum. Rising stars like Keegan Murray, and Trey Murphy III. Young, pesky defenders like Davion Mitchell, Herb Jones, and Keon Ellis. Consummate professionals like Jonas Valanciunas, and Harrison Barnes. The list goes on. Without a doubt, there will still be fireworks.


The team that can better overcome the emotional and physical loss of their key players will be the team that emerges victorious. It is hard to beat a team five times in a row. It is even harder to beat a team six times in a row. With the Kings positioned as 1.5-point favorites, Vegas agrees with that sentiment. However, I do not.

Of course, it will not accrue toward the official records, but I will put on my record that the Pelicans will beat the Kings all six times they play for the 2023-24 NBA Season. Not only have the Pelicans won all five matchups, but they have done so thoroughly, evidenced by a 19.2 average margin of victory and a total +96 point differential between them.

The ease will not be the same, but the results will be. I’m picking the Pelicans to win 114-108. Next up for them: a date with the #1 seed OKC Thunder.



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