SAN ANTONIO SPURS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Wednesday, April 11 (7 p.m.)
Why it’s on the list
In a scheduling coincidence, the Spurs coming to the Smoothie King Center for Game 82 of the regular season is a repeat of April 15, 2015, when the Pelicans posted a 108-103 victory and earned the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. That game is arguably the most memorable regular season win in franchise history, as New Orleans notched a must-win to qualify for the postseason (one runner-up may be April 15, 2008, when New Orleans beat the Clippers to become Southwest Division champions for the only time). The Pelicans would prefer to be safely in the 2018 playoff field by the time this April 11 matchup comes around, but it’s possible there will be something at stake seeding-wise for both teams. In one of toughest divisions in all of professional sports, San Antonio has still managed to dominate, winning six of the past seven Southwest championships. In fact, the only time since 2010-11 that San Antonio did not capture the division title occurred in 2014-15, when Houston finished first at 56-26. The 55-27 Spurs’ chances to prevail were ended by their Game 82 defeat to the Pelicans.
Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule
As noted above, it’s the regular season and home finale for the Pelicans. It comes on the heels of a three-game road trip that is necessitated by unusual circumstances. With the Mercedes-Benz Superdome hosting the immensely popular Wrestlemania on April 8, the Pelicans must make way by leaving town for a few days, in this case an April 6-9 road excursion that features matchups with Phoenix, Golden State and the Clippers. April is no easy month for New Orleans, with two other home games vs. Oklahoma City and Memphis.
What’s new in San Antonio
The Spurs aren’t known for dramatic offseason overhauls, with elite continuity being one reason they are so good year in and year out. San Antonio did make one major pickup this summer, signing forward Rudy Gay to a two-year deal. Gay is coming off an Achilles’ tear, but provides the Spurs with an athletic wing who can thrive in an up-tempo style. San Antonio did lose some depth in free agency, as Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon signed with Southeast Division teams Orlando and Atlanta, respectively.
Other 2017-18 games between these two teams
Wednesday, Nov. 22, San Antonio at New Orleans
Wednesday, Feb. 28, New Orleans at San Antonio
Thursday, March 15, New Orleans at San Antonio