The introduction of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament meant that some teams could play an extra game against one another during the campaign. 

When the NBA released its schedule last August, the Kings and Pelicans were slated to face each other four times.

However, both teams would add a fifth meeting to their schedule after advancing to face one another in the knockout round of the In-Season Tournament. 

While facing a team five times during the regular season is a rarity in this era, considering the schedule is more balanced since the expansion to 30 teams in 2004, the Pelicans took it to another level by emerging victorious in each game.

And now, with a sixth meeting on the horizon and a postseason appearance on the line, the Pelicans face the daunting task of trying to keep this streak alive.

Kings vs. Pelicans odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Kings +1.5 (-115) -105 o210.5 (-110)
Pelicans -1.5 (-105) -115 u210.5 (-110)
Odds via BetMGM

Kings analysis

It’s hard to explain the Pelicans’ dominance in this matchup, as four of their wins were by double digits. After all, the Kings were still a decent team, finishing 10 games above .500 and 9-6 against the top four seeds in the Western Conference.

One thing that’s quite noticeable in the head-to-head meetings is that New Orleans often dominated Sacramento inside the paint, outscoring the Kings by 68 points. 

Surprisingly, Sacramento ranked in the top half (13th) of the league in opponent points in the paint, with 48.6 allowed per game.

In their last meeting on Apr. 11, Sacramento finally won the interior battle (54-46), but the Pelicans torched the Kings from the perimeter on 22-of-40 (55%) shooting.

Yet, somehow, I think the Kings have the Pelicans right where they want them.

Sacramento arguably faced the toughest Western Conference play-in opponent when it defeated the Warriors 118-94. Golden State closed the season better than any other team, winning eight of its last 10 games.

The Kings also exacted some revenge after blowing a 2-0 lead and losing to the Warriors in the first round of last year’s playoffs. 

Another victory on Friday night would be somewhat of a cathartic finish to the season series against New Orleans.

Pelicans analysis

The Pelicans only have themselves to blame for being in the play-in tournament. Had New Orleans defeated the Lakers on the final day of the regular season, it would’ve finished sixth in the conference ahead of Phoenix.

While there’s always a potential for injury anytime a player takes the court, the chances certainly increase with additional games played.

In this instance, a quick turnaround and an intense play-in game a few days later might have contributed to Zion Williamson’s hamstring injury on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles didn’t have any answers for Williamson, who led all scorers with 40 points. Williamson left the game tied at 95 with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, yet he still played the most minutes (36) of any Pelicans player. 

New Orleans essentially lost momentum after rallying from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter. 

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram hasn’t been able to have the same impact since returning from a knee injury—averaging 12 points over two games. 

It certainly didn’t help that New Orleans head coach Willie Green kept Ingram on the bench for much of the fourth quarter, even after Williamson’s injury.

The Pelicans let a decent opportunity slip through their fingers, and it could prove costly against the Kings. 

Betting on the NBA?

Kings vs. Pelicans prediction

(9:30 p.m. ET, TNT)it

I was on the right side with the Lakers against New Orleans, but the game didn’t entirely unfold as initially expected. I assessed that the Pelicans would struggle to contain the Lakers and Anthony Davis inside the paint.

However, the Lakers were outscored 62-36 on the interior. While Davis did finish with 20 points and 15 rebounds, he struggled with back spasms leading into the game. 

New Orleans has also largely struggled at home this season, going 21-19 vs. 28-14 on the road.

With the Pelicans being at home in addition to their dominance in this series, the pressure is on them to complete the season sweep.

As a result, I’d much rather be in Sacramento’s shoes heading into this game. 

After five straight losses in the same season, I’ll take my chances with the Kings finally putting an end to this losing streak.

Pick: Kings +1.5 (-115 at BetMGM)

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