They needed help from Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks, but the Zion Williamson-led New Orleans Pelicans (10-9) have advanced to the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals. The Pelicans In-Season Tournament run now leads to a matchup with the Sacramento Kings. A win on the road Monday means a reward money bump and the right to play in Las Vegas, but that is not all that is on the line.
While Williamson “lives” for games like the Western Conference coming clash, CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy III are being thrown directly into the deep end of the season. Both McCollum and Murphy III made their returns to the lineup in the week leading up toe the quarterfinals, and both missed the most recent road loss to the Chicago Bulls.
New Orleans was able to advance to the playoffs of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament. Now, these are our bold Pelicans predictions for their quarterfinal matchup against the Kings.
*Watch NFL games LIVE with fuboTV (click for free trial)*
Jonas Valanciunas fills stat sheet, dominates Domantas Sabonis
The Jonas Valanciunas Economy is real down in New Orleans. Bets on Valanciunas to score double-digit points have cashed in three of the last four and six of the last eight games. The Lithuanian has nine double-doubles already this season. Two other nights he fell one rebound short.
Valanciunas jetted out of the Smoothie King Center with two double-doubles against the Kings just last week. Expect more of the same from the big-man battle. With Larry Nance Jr. out for around a month, the Pelicans will need JV to continue logging between 25-30 minutes a night.
Styles make fights and Domantas Sabonis just has not been able to handle Valanciunas this season. First Valanciunas posted 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists in a 129-93 blowout win for the Pelicans. Sabonis did have 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists but racked up some stats in garbage time.
Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the rematch two nights later, negating a big night from Sabonis.
Trigga Trey Murphy III Boosts 3-Pointer Stats
Trey Murphy III has been sidelined for the first 19 games but he knocked off some rust in Friday's home win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Trigga Trey got up 13 shots (4/10 3PA) and filled the stat sheet. He finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block. Murphy III averaged 14.5 points on 40.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc last season.
He also lit up Team USA as a member of the Select squad this summer. No doubt, who ever has to sacrifice minutes to Murphy III has to understand.
The Pelicans are sixth-worst in both shots taken (30.9) and made (11) from beyond the arc. The young sharpshoot is a walking highlight, and will help the Pelicans make more than the team's season average of three-pointers in Sacramento. They are 18th in success rate, just a half-point above the bottom ten. That trend is unlikely to continue with Murphy III back in the fold.
Williamson Wills Pelicans To Win, Post Double-Double
There is no need for a long-winded explanation here: Zion Williamson wants the stage that is a nationally televised elimination game. He could only shake his head when reminded of Michigan State's upset of Duke a few years ago. Williamson wants to turn the tables on the negative narratives plaguing his injury-riddled career.
It may not be too bold of a prediction, but Las Vegas is laying decent enough odds that Williamson leaves Sacramento with another double-double on the stat sheet.