NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - With 35 games left in the regular season, the Pelicans (25-22) are just two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but making the post-season for the first time in four years will still be quite a challenge.
New Orleans may realistically have to reach somewhere in the 45-50 win plateau to extend its season. It's year three of the Anthony Davis era, and the franchise is on pace for a much better record than the past past two years, in which they averaged 30.5 wins. But Jimmy Smith of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune projects a .500 team just treading water over the next few months.
"I think 50 wins is the cutoff for the eighth seed, that means 25 more wins for this club, and I don't know if that's possible," Smith said. "They really have not shown the ability to win on a consistent basis. They've just been up and down - .500, that's really what I see for the rest of the year. I don't see more than about 43 wins and I don't think 43 gets them into the playoffs."
What would help the Pelicans' cause is a healthy Anthony Davis. Davis sat out Friday's win over the Clippers with a groin strain but is expected to play Monday against the league-leading Atlanta Hawks (40-8).
"You don't want to have second thoughts going through your head for sure," Davis said. "Especially playing against a team like this. If you're going to be on the floor, you gotta go out there and give it your all. I wouldn't go out there playing scared, playing like i'm going to reinjure it. If it happens it happens, but right now I'm just focused on this win and going on there and doing what I have to do."
Meanwhile, the future tenure of coach Monty Williams and General Manager Dell Demps are always hot topics, and if the wheels were to fall off, Smith says changes could be coming.
"If they do make the postseason, all bets are off on that, but if they don't make the postseason, I think there's a shakeup at the top," Smith said. "Maybe a new broom will sweep everybody out and they'll get some new faces, some new voices and maybe generate a little more excitement and maybe at this point. The players need to hear a new voice, that happens after a certain amount of years with a coach or a personnel staff that there really needs to be a new message and this is the end of year five for this group, so they've been to the playoffs once and that was with a veteran dominated team that first year."