Spurs vs. Pelicans 2022 NBA In-Play Tournament Key Matchups

The last two spots for the Western Conference Play-In Tournament shuffled between the Pelicans, Spurs, and the Lakers. In the end, it was the Pelicans and the Spurs who stayed alive for a shot at a playoff spot.

New Orleans features a young squad with a mix of veteran presence. While some might argue that the team needs a few more years before gaining traction, the players did well to finish the season in the ninth seed. They take on an erratic Spurs squad on Wednesday night. Nonetheless, Gregg Popovich is eager to return to the playoff picture after snapping a 24-year streak of making it to the postseason in 2019/20.

Nitrobetting brings you the latest and hottest NBA previews. For this one, we go over the three key matchups between the Spurs and the Pelicans.

3 Key Matchups In Spurs vs. Pelicans 2022 NBA Play-In Showdown

READ MORE: Spurs vs. Pelicans NBA Odds and Preview – April 13th, 2022

Willie Green vs. Gregg Popovich

Willie Green spent five years as an assistant coach before landing a head coach position with the New Orleans Pelicans. He was part of the Warriors coaching staff from 2016 to 2019 and spent another two years with the Phoenix suns as an assistant coach. His portfolio with a championship team and championship contenders is advantageous for the younger Pelicans squad.

At the other end of the spectrum is a decorated Gregg Popovich. The 73-year-old coach has five NBA Championship titles under his belt, all with the San Antonio Spurs. He was also awarded NBA Coach of the Year three times and is a four-time NBA All-Star Game head coach. Popovich also worked his way to the Top 15 Coaches in NBA History. However, since the departure of the Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili trio, Popovich struggled to get past the early stages of the postseason.

If this Play-In is Popovich’s last game as an NBA head coach, he will retire as one of the greatest coaches in the game’s history. Meanwhile, Willie Green still has a lot to prove as he tries to bring more playoff experience to the Pelicans. Ultimately, this is a must-watch coaching matchup in the Play-In contest.

Will the scorching Pelicans offense trouble the Spurs?

C.J. McCollum injected some much-needed pace into the Pelicans’ offense. The team ranked ninth in the league’s offense since the trade deadline. They had to work through multiple injuries, but ended up with one of the most exciting teams to watch if you’re into attacking basketball. The duo of McCollum and Brandon Ingram does wonders, allowing the Pelicans to score over 119 points per 100 possessions. Both players complement each other, while Jonas Valanciunas adds a different dimension to the offense.

Still and all, the postseason puts more pressure on players, which means that the Pelicans could still underperform. The Spurs have star defenders at their disposal. Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl could aggravate McCollum and the rest of the Pelicans’ offense. Either way, Gregg Popovich will have tricks up his sleeve to make this matchup interesting.

A rebounding contest

Both sides are well within the top-ten rebounding teams in the league. The Spurs average 53.4 total boards per game (seventh), while the Pelicans average 53.1 rebounds per game (ninth). While New Orleans falls behind in defensive rebounding at 33.2 rebounds (24th) versus the Spurs’ 34.3 rebounds (13th) per game, they do have the offensive rebounding edge here.

The Pelicans are the third-best offensive rebounding team in the NBA this season, averaging 12.0 boards per game. This should be enough to produce more second-chance points for the squad. Meanwhile, the Spurs have a tamer offensive rebounding record at 11.0 per game, but enough for a seventh-best record in the league.

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