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Kings vs Pelicans Preview: New Team New Orleans?

On the first night of a back to back, the Kings will have to square off against a Pelicans squad that's getting hot at the right time.
By | 7 Comments | Apr 4, 2023

The Sacramento Kings are down to their final week of the regular season and with the playoffs looming, will have four tough final games deciding their seeding and opponent. First up? The New Orleans Pelicans. Winners in six of their last seven games, the Pelicans have gone from nearly dead in the water, to flying high… and just in the nick of time. Will the Kings clinch the Pacific Division tonight? Can Keegan Murray continue his march towards the Two Hundred Three’s Club? How many of you expected Beno Udrih to be an assistant coach for the Pels and does Tony Xypteras know yet?

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: Tuesday, April 4th,  5:00 PM PT
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140

For Your Consideration

A Feathery Touch: Definitely feel like I paid the price for doing whatever the basketball equivalent is to playing hookie with that San Antonio Spurs preview. It felt like a trap game, but the sun was bright, the boxes in my house needed to be moved and Pops was sitting like EIGHT players. That one is on me, folks. It was on me. So, to rectify that mistake, here is a full fledged preview to whet your whistle.

The issues with the Pelicans this season have never stemmed from their lack of talent – they’re loaded from top to bottom with absolute studs… just more of the Barbaro variety than New Orleans fans would prefer. If Zion Williamson’s 29 games of limited brilliance weren’t a cruel enough twist of fate for them, back-up #1 option Brandon Ingram has managed only 41 games this season. He’s back now, and playing like a man possessed but, for most of this season, the two most talented Pelican players couldn’t have seen the hardwood less if they wer looking through binoculars with balsa wood lens caps. Enter CJ McCollum – the savior of the Pelicans season. No stranger to truncated seasons, CJ has played in 71 games so far this season, being the steady scoring hand that the 20th rated offense and 15th highest scoring team in the NBA has needed with their first two options down. Shooting 39% from range and 46.8% from inside the arc, McCollum’s averaged just a hair under 21 points per game, while dishing out 5.8 assists and grabbing 4.3 rebounds to boot. With youngins like Herb Jones, Naji Marshall and Trey Murphy III starting for long stretches of the season, the Pels have relied on CJ to keep their head above the water – he’s been able to do just that.

Now with Brandon Ingram back, things look a little different. Since March 1st, Ingram’s been averaging 27.7 points, 7.2 assists and 5.6 rebounds and 39% from deep and the Pelicans in that same stretch are 9-5 during the games he’s played. Which, hey, is fantastic considering that the Pelicans are currently sitting in the 8th spot with an identical record to the seventh seeded Lakers and only a half game out of the sixth spot. With games against the Grizzlies, Knicks and Timberwolves to finish out their season, the Pelicans would absolutely love to win this game tonight.

So what do the Kings do? Though they haven’t technically wrapped up the Pacific Division title, the Kings have clinched home court in the first round, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some strategic resting tonight, even after the mess of a game that was that Spurs contest on Sunday afternoon. With 4 games to play, the Kings are 4 games up on the Suns who have won 5 straight games and play the Spurs, Nuggets, Lakers and Clippers to wrap up their season. Do they roll the dice and let Fox and Sabonis spend a few extra long stretches of time out to protect them from injury? Do they hit the gas and gun it for a two-seed that’s only two games above them?

I don’t have an answer – I don’t really need an answer either. I’m at the point in the season where the Kings are eight games above my highest hopes and I’m really trying to see this as house money. Go for the two, sink to the four – I trust the Kings right now to do what they need to do to be successful. Theres a great chance they’re playing the Warriors, Clippers or Lakers come playoff time… if they need to toss in a bit of gamesmanship to get the match-up they want, I’m all for it. I’d rather a rested for and Sabonis and the fourth seed then burnt out binary stars and 50 wins.

Either way, this game is going to be a ton of fun to watch and I’m looking forward to at least one half of playoff-level basketball from each of these teams.

Prediction

Kings rest the starters. Malik Monk scores 40, Trey Lyles goes for 7 triples and Chimezie Metu breaks Jonas Valenciunas’ wrist when Jonas fails to block a dunk attempt from our boy. Lots of tweets about Beno after the broadcast shows him – something we should all expect by now, but don’t.

Kings: 118, Pelicans: 111

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Greg
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April 4, 2023 3:11 pm

Apologies for having the preview go up so late! Apparently I have to actually click the “publish” button, not just think about it.

Jman1949
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April 4, 2023 3:17 pm
Reply to  Greg

That’s ok

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Jman1949
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April 4, 2023 3:13 pm

New Orleans has turned up the heat;
They’ve won seven of eight as we meet.
If they get back Zion,
One thing to rely on:
In the playoffs they’ll be hard to beat!

Kosta
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April 4, 2023 3:43 pm

Go Kings!

Let’s win the Pacific again.

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Mike120
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April 4, 2023 4:20 pm

Just win tonight, lock up the 3 then coast to the playoffs. That’s why that loss to the Spurs was so frustrating. Forget about the 2. We blew that by losing last game.

NorCalKingsFan
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April 4, 2023 5:08 pm
Reply to  Mike120

This is how I feel as well, it was a wasted opportunity with the Grizz losing the same night. I said to myself at that time, “well there went the 2nd seed”.

I don’t think the reward is worth the effort and energy it would require of the core players to really go after it. I still expect MB and the team make every effort to win every game remaining, but if someone like Sabonis or Fox needs a rest, I hope the decision isn’t based on pushing for the #2.

andy_sims
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April 4, 2023 4:38 pm

Tuning in for Valanciunas’ injury.

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