NBA Play-in Tips & Preview – Spurs @ Pelicans

The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips as New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs line up for a do-or-die Western Conference play-in match. 

11:30 (AEST), Thu 14th Apr @ Smoothie King Center, New Orleans

History: Played 80: Spurs 57 V Pelicans 23

Last meeting: March 26, 2022: Spurs 107 d Pelicans 103 at Smoothie King Center

Final Thoughts: New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs square off for the chance to play for the Western Conference’s eighth seed.

The Pelicans earned a play-in opportunity after recovering from a 3-16 start to the season, Zion Williamson’s campaign being wiped out by injury and Brandon Ingram only playing 55 games. The trade arrival of CJ McCollum sparked a turnaround and the Pels went on a 9-4 from mid-March before losing their last two regular-season games to big guns Memphis (141-114) and Golden State (128-107). They finished 36-46.

Ingram has missed New Orleans’ last three games but should be on deck. Big man Jonas Valunciunas has played only 28 minutes of the Pels’ last four games but will look to play a key role, averaging 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds this season.

The 34-48 Spurs, in the midst of a rebuild, nabbed a surprise play-in berth with the likes of the Lakers faltering down the stretch. A 7-1 run put San Antonio into the top 10 before they lost their last three to the Timberwolves (127-121), Warriors (100-94) and Mavericks (130-120).

All-Star Dejounte Murray has been the Spurs’ spearhead, averaging 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists.

Spurs boast home-and-away edge

The Spurs take a 3-1 advantage in the regular-season ledger against the Pelicans into this clash. After winning the teams’ initial encounter at home in December 112-97, the Spurs grabbed a 124-114 victory in New Orleans in February. They met twice in the space of eight days in March, while the Pels romping to a 124-91 win in San Antonio and the Spurs getting another W in the Big Easy, 107-103.

The Pelicans are 19-22 at home (21-19-1 ATS), splitting their last 10 at Smoothie King Center. The Spurs are 18-23 on the road (23-16-2 ATS) but have won five of their last seven away.

This shapes as an absorbing and high-scoring sudden-death encounter. Murray is capable of lifting the Spurs to an upset, but McCollum’s playoff experience and the expected return of Ingram and Valunciunas tips the scales in the Pelicans’ favour at home.

Best Bet: Handicap – Pelicans -4.5 @ $1.80