It was a triumphant return for the New Orleans Pelicans this week as they battled out three consecutive wins and ending their 10-game losing streak and starting one of their own.
Colin Ward-Henninger’s NBA power rankings show that the Pels rose to No 17 this week – three spots up from No 20 last week. As per Henninger, the Pels have finished the week off on a high note with two huge wins, one over former teammate Brandon Ingram and the other being a narrow victory over the Kings.
“New Orleans might make some moves around the fringes before the deadline, but the Pels have to be pleased with what they’ve seen from Ingram, Zion Williamson, and CJ McCollum when healthy”
Three-Straight Wins for the Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans made the most of their home-court advantage as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks 116-107 on Tuesday night.
Led by Brandon Ingram’s 30 points and CJ McCollum’s added 21, the Pelicans pushed through for their third straight victory. Also providing a crucial contribution was Jonas Valanciunas, who returned from a one-game absence due to an injury with a commendable 16 points and 14 rebounds, cementing the Pelicans’ overpowering performance.
Much needed wins for New Orleans who suffered 10 straight losses over the past weeks. They are barely holding a Play-in spot, but are in a good position to make it if they continue their current form.
The Pelicans’ season-long struggle is far from over and their next task at hand will be the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. This will be their second the last meeting this season. The Cavs won their match-up last month behind Darius Garlands’ 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assist.
Pelicans vs Injuries
As the season rolls on, injuries have continually posed a challenge for the Pelicans, testing their depth. Zion Williamson (hamstring injury) has been out for 18 games and will be reevaluated soon while Brandon Ingram was only recently able to return after missing 29 games with a problematic toe. Even Jonas Valanciunas sat out his first game with a knee injury.
Despite the setback, nine players still managed to reach double digits in scoring during one or both of the recent matches – a testament to their versatility and resourcefulness. The Pelicans will soon receive an update on Zion’s progress, and if they are able to maintain a healthy ‘Big 3’, they can look forward to a surge in the power rankings.
It will not be a surprise if the Pels emerged again as one of the top 5 contenders in the league as they already proved that they can be the leading team in the west.
New Orleans Pelicans Odds
As of today, DraftKings Louisiana sportsbook listed the Pelicans at +2500 odds to win the NBA Finals. The book has also given them a +1400 to win the Western Conference and +1100 to win the Southwest Division.
Boston Celtics (+350) and Milwaukee Bucks (+650) are the current favorites to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, followed by the Denver Nuggets (+700).
The odds tell a positive story for the Pelicans, and they certainly have the potential to become one of the top contenders in the league. With Zion Williamson back in action (or close to it), and with Brandon Ingram becoming a consistent contributor.
The Pels are not a dark horse this year, they are a team to beat when healthy. But the West is still loaded with teams gunning for the top spot, and it will take more than just talent and luck for the Pelicans to make it to the top.
The NBA All-star weekend is just right around the corner and New Orleans will have the chance to reload and plan for the final push of the regular season. The next few weeks will be crucial for the Pelicans as they try to take advantage of every opportunity to claim a spot at the top of the NBA power rankings.