4. Which Spurs might struggle in the spotlight and why?
Two names dominated the answer to this question across the board.
Will Eudy: If anyone is going to struggle Wednesday night, it might be Lonnie Walker IV. While he’s had some very impressive stretches this season, he’s been inconsistent overall, and he didn’t have his best game in last year’s play-in either. I’m hoping he erupts for 20 points like he’s done on many occasions this year, but I think it’s entirely possible he could be a letdown in this one.
Cal Durrett: Josh Primo. He's the youngest player in the NBA and could definitely struggle in a play-in atmosphere.
Dylan Carter: Lonnie Walker and Josh Primo.
Kyle Forson: Lonnie Walker. The stage and moment will be too big.
Jonah Kubicek: Josh Primo won't be given a lot of minutes, but the minutes he is given will be forgettable.
Reign Amurao: Lonnie Walker.
Ethan Farina: As one of the streakiest players on the team, Lonnie Walker seems like a prime candidate for this spot. The other side of the coin is that he could get blisteringly hot as well and help the Spurs coast to an easy win.
Josh Paredes: I hate to pile on Lonnie, but he has the most to prove when it comes to showing up on the big stage with a decent amount of experience (four seasons). Here's to hoping he proves us all wrong.
5. Who will win between the Spurs and Pelicans and why?
Will Eudy: It’s likely that this will be a tightly contested game that comes down to the final minutes. With both of these teams excelling at offensive rebounding, whoever can get the edge on that front will probably come away with the victory. In the end, I think the star power of Dejounte Murray will be enough to lift the Spurs to a win. He’s given fans something to be proud of all year long, and he’ll put together another masterclass performance against the Pelicans.
Cal Durrett: The Pelicans, but I expect it to be close. The Spurs are 3-1 against the Pelicans this season, but they are playing at home and San Antonio will be in a hostile environment. To be fair, the Spurs have played better on the road this year, but winning a must-win road game might be too much to ask for this team.
Ethan Farina: The Spurs. They've been in the zone lately and I expect that to carry them through this game, although I don't think it'll be enough to get them out of the play-in entirely.
Reign Amurao: The Spurs will win because, outside of CJ and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans don't really have a consistent offensive threat. Plus, the Spurs can ride Tre Jones' recent momentum.
Jonah Kubicek: The Spurs. The score will be close but the Spurs will win and it won’t feel like a competition.
Dylan Carter: The Spurs won the season series with the Pelicans and beat them in five of their last six outings. NOLA has limited playoff experience and depth, though, in terms of top-end talent, they have an advantage. San Antonio should take this one as long as they are mindful of rebounding, shot selection, ball movement, and defensive rotations.
Kyle Forson: The Spurs. Destiny.
Josh Paredes: This one is a total toss-up. The Pelicans have more overall star power with Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, but the Spurs are deeper. The Spurs share the ball exceptionally well while the Pelicans destroy on the boards. No result, from a Spurs blowout win to a blowout loss, should be a surprise in this one.
When all things are equal, I tend to give the edge to the home team when predicting. I'll take the Pelicans edging out the Spurs with big performances from their two stars and San Antonio struggling to keep both Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes in check down low. I'm not exactly putting any money down on this though.
The Spurs take on the Pelicans on Wednesday, April 13th at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.