The New Orleans Hornets are 26-49 this season. They’re 29.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs and 13 games behind the Lakers for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. So why will the Hornets play such a large role in determining which team, the Lakers or Jazz, will be the final participant in this season’s Western Conference.
Why? It’s simple, really. Over the last two weeks of the season they face the Jazz and the Lakers before facing the Dallas Mavericks. Twice.
In an article written by Patrick Michael of the Yahoo! Contributor Network, the Hornet’s role in the final playoff positioning should not be understated.
Here’s a list of the matchups over the last couple weeks of the season;
4/5/2013: Hornets at Jazz
4/9/2013: Hornets at Lakers
4/14/2013: Mavericks at Hornets
4/17/2013: Hornets at Mavericks
So, if the Hornets are going to play that big of a role in the final seeding, how do the three teams fighting for that final slot generally fare against New Orleans?
Los Angeles, even with their struggles this season, are still 3-0 against the Hornets. One of these wins they were down 20-plus points before coming all the way back for the victory, but they’ve looked solid (for the most part) against New Orleans this season.
Utah is 2-1 against New Orleans this season, but as Michael points out in his article, Hornets’ big man Robin Lopez has played some of his best games of the season against the Jazz. So if Lopez is able to string together another big game and the Hornets get some help from some of their other guys they might have a shot to take down a Utah team that’s been running hot lately.
The Mavericks are 1-1 against the Hornets this season with (obviously) two more meetings to go. Dallas is the team that has the slimmest playoff chances out of the three right now, sitting 2.5 games behind Utah and three behind the Lakers. So even if Dallas takes care of business against New Orleans they’re still going to need quite a bit of help to get into the postseason.
So, in a season that has been relatively bizarre for a variety of reasons, it’s the team that will soon be known as the Pelicans that will be one of the biggest deciding factors in the Western Conference playoff picture.
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