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NBA Play-In Preview: Pelicans to Face Kings Without Zion Williamson

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings: Quarterfinals - 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament

(Photo : Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)) SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 04: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks to drive to the basket on Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings in the third quarter of an NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round game at Golden 1 Center on December 04, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Following a significant loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, the New Orleans Pelicans are now poised to face the Sacramento Kings in a high-stakes battle for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings caught fire Tuesday night steamrolling their rival, the Warriors, to keep their season alive; not only defeating Golden State comfortably but boosting Sacramento’s confidence in the process as well.

Now, the Kings will have to deal with a tough Pelicans team on the road. 

Now with a chance to play the No.1 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, will the Kings ground the Pelicans, or will Pels prevent Sacramento from lighting the beam?

RELATED ARTICLE: Pelicans: Zion Williamson Injury Gets Confusing Update After Being Spotted Without Limp

NBA Play-In Preview: New Orleans Pelicans vs Sacramento Kings 

Date: Friday, April 19th
Time: 9:30 PM EST
Network: ESPN 

The New Orleans Pelicans have so far proven their superiority over the Sacramento Kings, sweeping them in the season series with an impressive 5-0 record. 

McCollum, Ingram, and Williamson have managed to torch the Kings in each game during the regular season. 

In a high-stakes win-or-go-home scenario, the Pelicans would typically be the favored team. However, the absence of their star power forward, Zion Williamson, could make things a little more challenging this time around. 

READ MORE: Warriors: Stephen Curry Reflects on Potential Future Without Klay Thompson and Draymond Green

NBA Play-In Preview: Zion Williamson’s Health in Question 

Zion Williamson’s health status is what will determine this game. 

According to ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Williamson will be out of the game on Friday due to a left hamstring injury. 

The Pelicans not having their lead scorer after a star-making 40-point performance is a drastic blow to a team that would have been odds on favor to win this game. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Clippers: Kawhi Leonard’s Status for NBA Playoffs Gets Huge Update From Coach Ty Lue

NBA Play-In Preview: In X-Factors for the Pelicans and Kings

Being without Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk, the Kings small forward Keegan Murray has stepped up; scoring 23 points on Tuesday against the Warriors.

Murray showed the world what Kings fans have known for a long time, that he is legit. 

In the absence of Zion Williamson, the Pelicans are going to have to rely heavily on Brandon Ingram to step up, if they do hope to secure the playoff spot. 

Ingram, who has recently returned from a left knee contusion that kept him out of action for a month, had an abysmal performance against LA; shooting just 4-for-12 from the field and finishing with 11 points against the Lakers.

One could argue that he is still recovering from an injury that has kept him out for an extended period of time. This may explain Brandon Ingram’s lackluster performance, but at the same time he will need to shake off the rust in order to help New Orleans past the Kings.

During the regular season Ingram has demolished the Kings, averaging 24.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in their previous five games.

READ MORE: Lakers: Darvin Ham Makes Bold Statement Regarding Their Chances vs Nuggets in Playoffs

NBA Play-In Preview: Final Verdict

These are some of the best young teams in the Western Conference.

The New Orleans Pelicans have a lot going for them with home-court advantage and guards who can slow down Sacramento star guard De’Aaron Fox. However, without Zion Williamson in the lineup, the Pelicans chances of winning have gone down drastically. 

READ MORE: Bucks vs. Pacers Playoffs: 4 Ways Milwaukee Is Not Ready Yet for the Postseason

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