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Pelicans Securing 8th Seed Leads to Kendrick Perkins Pointing Out ‘Blessing in Disguise’ for NOLA Franchise

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Pelicans Securing 8th Seed Leads to Kendrick Perkins Pointing Out ‘Blessing in Disguise’ for NOLA Franchise

On Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans secured their spot in the playoffs with a surprise 105-98 win over the Sacramento Kings in the play-in tournament. Despite playing at home, the Pelicans were the underdogs due to Zion Williamson’s absence. The star forward missed the game after suffering a hamstring strain in New Orleans’ narrow loss against the Los Angeles Lakers last Sunday.

In Williamson’s absence, forward Brandon Ingram stepped up and scored 24 points while center Jonas Valanciunas played an excellent supporting role with 19 points to help the Pelicans book their playoff berth as the eighth seed. New Orleans will now face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round albeit without Williamson, whose injury will be reevaluated in two weeks.

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins believes losing against the Lakers and entering the playoffs as the eighth seed was a blessing in disguise for New Orleans. NOLA would have been the seventh seed had they beaten the Lakers in their first play-in game. Perkins wrote on X, formerly Twitter,

“Might have been a blessing in disguise that the Pelicans dropped those 2 games against the Lakers… getting this 8th seed because they have a Legit shot of beating the Thunder without Zion [Williamson].”


The Pelicans could’ve finished as the sixth seed and avoided the play-in tournament had they beaten the Lakers in their final regular season game. However, LA won that game comfortably and set up a battle for the seventh seed in New Orleans in the play-in tournament. The Lakers’ second win in three days over the Pelicans saw them qualify for the playoffs and set up a first-round battle against reigning champions, the Denver Nuggets.

If given the choice, every team in the playoffs would likely prefer to face the young Thunder team over the Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets. In that sense, Perkins is spot on about New Orleans receiving a blessing in disguise. However, the Pelicans shouldn’t underestimate the Thunder, especially without Zion in the lineup, because the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander-led squad has snatched the top seed from the Nuggets in a close battle this season.

Odds stacked against the Pelicans, but Larry Nance Jr. expresses confidence

While facing the Thunder over the Nuggets in the first round improves the Pelicans’ odds slightly, they are still stacked against them due to Zion Williamson’s absence. However, veteran forward Larry Nance Jr. fancies his team’s chances despite the star’s absence.

Following the Pelicans’ win over the Kings, Nance Jr. was asked to rate his team’s chances against the #1 seed in the Western Conference without Williamson. He confidently claimed that he’d bet on New Orleans to eliminate OKC, before clarifying he did not mean it in the literal sense.

Nance’s poor choice of words aside, the veteran forward and the Pelicans are confident they’ll become the ninth eighth-seed in NBA history to take down the Conference leaders in the first round of the playoffs. They’ll miss Williamson’s impact, but they boast a 7-5 record without their star forward this season, showcasing that they can win games without him. The Pelicans are the underdogs and the pressure is on the Thunder to win and advance. New Orleans can throw the kitchen sink at OKC and hope for the best.

Post Edited By:Satagni Sikder

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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