- The Spurs and Pelicans play in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament on Wednesday at 9:30 pm EST
- San Antonio took the season series 3-1, winning by an average of 9.6 points
- See the Spurs vs Pelicans odds and preview, as they battle for the last remaining playoff spot
The NBA’s playoff picture will be one step closer to finalized after Wednesday night. The first portion of the Western Conference’s Play-In Tournament up when the Spurs visit the Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Tip-off is set for 9:30 pm EST on ESPN.
Greg Popovich’s side took three of the four regular season meetings with the Pelicans, but they weren’t all convincing. San Antonio won by 15 and 10 points before squeezing out a 107-103 win on March 26.
Spurs vs Pelicans Odds
|San Antonio Spurs||+185||+5.5 (-115)||Ov 227.0 (-110)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||-225||-5.5 (-115)||Un 227.0 (-110)|
Odds as of April 12th at DraftKings
Despite dropping their last two games of the season, the Pelicans come in as 5.5-point favorites. Those last two regular season results were fairly lopsided too, losing 141-114 to Memphis, and closing things out with a 128-107 decision against Golden State.
San Antonio has been red-hot against the spread. They’ve cashed in nine of their last 10, but dropped three in a row outright. Before that, the Spurs were on an 8-2 run.
Spurs Discipline to Challenge Pelicans
While the Spurs are still searching for an identity in their post-dynasty era, there’s one thing that never changes. And that’s Greg Popovich’s commitment to discipline.
In a one-and-done situation, it could become a sore spot for the Pelicans.
Dejounte Murray and the Spurs are ready for the play-in vs. the Pelicans 💪 pic.twitter.com/XJIN0bYrVI
— Spurs Nation (@SpursNationCP) April 12, 2022
New Orleans averaged the sixth-most free throws per game in the Association this season, but spots three through six were basically interchangeable. When they got to the line they were a top-ten team too.
But the Spurs averaged just 18.1 personal fouls a game, the second-fewest. And that number actually drops to 17.6 on the road.
In their four meetings, the Pelicans went to the line 15, 18, 19 and 20 times.
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CJ McCollum Could Be a Problem
The Pelicans were on the hunt for a veteran guard at the trade deadline, and they landed a motivated one in CJ McCollum. But he’s been better than advertised.
Since coming to New Orleans, McCollum has enjoyed a healthy uptick across the board.
CJ McCollum: Trail Blazers vs Pelicans in 21/22
|20.5||Points per Game||24.3|
|4.3||Rebounds per Game||4.5|
|4.5||Assist per Game||5.8|
McCollum played a key role in the Pelicans’ lone win over San Antonio on March 18th, dropping 20 points. He struggled from downtown that night, converting on just one of his five three pointers. It was a balanced effort as Naji Marshall (18) and Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes (16 apiece) came up with solid lines as well.
Not to be dramatic, but I would die for @CJMcCollum
— Boot Krewe Media (@BootKreweMedia) April 12, 2022
The funny thing was he was even better in their four-point loss at the end of the month. He threw down a game-high 32 points, but barely got any help. Jose Alvarado had 23 and Valanciunas had 18, but the other seven Pelicans managed 30 points between them.
Dejounte Murray Hopes to Regain Form
The Spurs had been riding the hot hand of Dejounte Murray to get themselves back into the playoff picture. While it was a winning formula, San Antonio found themselves without the point guard for a five game stretch thanks to a mysterious illness.
But if Murray can rediscover the touch that he had through February and March, he could dominate on Wednesday.
Dejounte Murray explains on Twitter of his recent absence from illness 😕
“I lost 7-8 pounds” pic.twitter.com/InCsziB6G1
— Project Spurs (@projectspurs) April 5, 2022
Murray put up 24.9 points, 9.5 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game over the 22 contests before falling ill. Prior to that, the assists and rebounds were similar, but he was averaging five points per game less over his first 45.
Thankfully Murray was able to get in some game action before the Play-Ins, turning in a 17-points, seven assist effort against Dallas on Sunday.
Spurs vs Pelicans Prediction
There are a lot of reasons to feel good about the Pelicans ahead of Wednesday. They have the advantage in some key matchups, including at center with Valanciunas. Valanciunas and McCollum also have a ton of playoff experience, while this Spurs roster is lean on postseason appearances.
Plus New Orleans has home court advantage.
But that 1-3 record against San Antonio this season may mean that Popovich has the Pelicans figured out. It’s hard to say. Regardless of outcome, Wednesday’s over has hit just once in the four games between these two, so things should stay tight.
The Pick: Under 227.0 (-110)
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