Russell Westbrook must now know that there are a lot of ties that bind the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans together. Most famously, the franchise was formerly known as the Hornets nearly aided in creating a new dynasty some years back. No, I’m not calling these current Lakers with Anthony Davis a dynasty. I’m talking about when Chris Paul would’ve left them and teamed with Kobe Bryant. Rather than reside with the purple and gold, Paul spent his prime with the Los Angeles Clippers due to the late David Stern. If you’re unfamiliar, take a ride on a little Google search.
Fast forward to now, and the Lakers and Pelicans did business in exchange for AD. The Lakers are sitting on one title while trying to get healthy and capture another one. The Pelicans are in the same boat with two of their primary pieces in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram healing and a newly acquired C.J. McCollum in tow. Both teams occupy the ninth and tenth spots in the Western Conference play-in race. If the Lakers remain in 10th place, they’ll be on the road against the Pelicans, and vice versa.
Sunday will be the second time the teams play, with the first meeting ending in embarrassing fashion for the Lakers. Being so close in the standings brings importance to their next matchup.
Russell Westbrook realizes this, saying the following after their loss against the 76ers on Wednesday (h/t ESPN’s Dave McMenamin):
“It’s going to be a playoff-type of atmosphere for us because it’s definitely a must-win, I believe, for our group.”
Unfortunately, the Lakers put themselves in this position. Losses against teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, and Sacramento Kings this season have made these types of games carry a mounting significance. The last thing this team needs is to completely miss the playoffs by being eliminated by a team in which they share a lasting and conflicted kinship.
Lately, they’ve played some of their best basketball including road wins over the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s going to take the same consistency for them to finish these last 10 games. At the very least, it’s a possibility that Davis could return from a sprained mid-foot to provide the team some much-needed scoring and defense. Only time will tell if his presence is enough.