The No. 9 Sacramento Kings will take on the No. 7 New Orleans Pelicans in the Play-In Tournament. The winner of this game will be the eighth seed in the Western Conference and face the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. With that in mind, keep reading for our preview of the game, which will be played at the Smoothie King Center at 9:30 pm ET on Friday, April 19th.

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How To Watch Kings vs. Pelicans

Where: Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana

When: 9:30 pm ET on Friday, April 19th

Channel: TNT

Kings vs. Pelicans Prediction

We haven’t seen a No. 7 miss the playoffs since the start of the Play-In Tournament. But this year’s Pelicans team could make history. New Orleans nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback win against the Los Angeles Lakers in the battle for the seventh seed. But Zion Williamson pulled his hamstring late in the fourth quarter, after having dominated for most of the second half. The Lakers then went on to close it out, and now Williamson is out for this game. When you combine that with the fact that Willie Green no longer seems to trust Brandon Ingram, it’s hard to see how New Orleans will get this done. The Kings are the more talented team right now, and they’re also a more connected unit.

Of course, it should be noted that New Orleans went 5-0 both straight-up and against the spread against Sacramento this season. But it’s hard to imagine the Pelicans winning six in a row against a team that is just as good as they are, if not better. And New Orleans likely won’t be the same team on Friday that it was during the regular season. On top of that, the Kings are 18-6 ATS when playing on the road in their second game in only five days under Mike Brown. They’re also an impressive 11-1 ATS when playing on the road against an opponent that has beaten them three times in a row over the last three seasons. And if that’s not enough, there’s also the fact that the Kings are 25-16 ATS on the road this year. Meanwhile, the Pelicans are just 20-22 ATS at home.

The one thing the Pelicans have going heading into this game is that they are sixth in the league in adjusted defensive rating, according to Dunks & Threes. And losing Williamson should’t be a deathblow on that end of the floor. But the Kings have the ability to score efficiently against anybody, especially when Keegan Murray is making shots. And the second-year wing went off for 32 points in the Play-In win over the Golden State Warriors. Murray went 8 for 13 from 3 in that game, and life is just so easy on De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis when he’s spacing the floor like that.

Sabonis will be an interesting player to watch in this game. The Pelicans have not been playing Jonas Valanciunas big minutes, as they prefer to be a little quicker on their feet defensively. But Sabonis should be able to dominate whoever guards him. He’ll either be a little too quick for Valanciunas or too big for whoever replaces him. So, Sabonis should come out and really make a difference here.

The Pelicans are also going to need some heroics from somewhere here. Williamson is coming off a 40-point performance against Los Angeles, so he will be missed in a big way offensively. And if Green doesn’t live with Ingram’s flaws, it’s unclear where New Orleans will consistently get offense. CJ McCollum is a tremendous offensive player, but Sacramento will stick Keon Ellis, a great perimeter defender, on him. And the Pelicans aren’t exactly a team that likes to jack up 3s, even though they do have the personnel to do it. So, maybe the Pelicans will give Trey Murphy III the green light to launch away, but he doesn’t get as many minutes as he should. That makes it hard to see him swinging the game.

Overall, there’s just a lot working against New Orleans heading into this game. So, even though they have the head-to-head edge, along with home-court advantage, I think the Kings will end up getting a crack at the Thunder in the opening round of the playoffs.

Bet: Kings -1 (-110 – 2 units)

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