The Pelicans are aware that evening their current first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Suns will require them to keep their cool, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com.
In the middle of Game 3’s second quarter, Pelicans big man Jaxson Hayes was ejected from the contest, an eventual Suns win, after aggressively pushing Phoenix forward Jae Crowder. New Orleans would go on to lose at home by a narrow margin (114-111). The Suns now have a 2-1 series edge.
Pelicans head coach Willie Green acknowledged that Hayes let his emotions get the best of him in that instance, but that the team overall has been effective at managing its emotions in a playoff environment.
“I thought we’ve done a really good job of that this series,” Green said of the Pelicans’ approach to their emotions. “We had a moment — the Jaxson-Jae Crowder thing. But other than that, it was a close game coming down the stretch, the last five minutes. They pulled away a bit. But we’re doing a lot of good. We just have to be better down the stretch.”
New Orleans will face off against the Suns in a big Game 4 today.
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. is confident in the team’s core even without star forward Zion Williamson, writes Logan Murdock of The Ringer. “We’re the real deal,” Nance tells Murdock. “This team is here and this team is for real… And we have a top-10 asset that hasn’t even touched the court yet.” Murdock notes that three promising New Orleans rookies have emerged as key additions to the club’s playoff rotation: Herbert Jones, Jose Alvarado, and Trey Murphy III. Star veterans CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram have proven they belong in these playoffs thus far.
- Rockets veteran point guard John Wall is expected to opt in to the final season on his max deal, worth $47.3MM in 2022/23. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggests that Wall’s agents and Houston brass will discuss the possibility of a buyout arrangement if the Rockets are unable to find a trade partner for Wall before the 2022 draft in June. Should Wall be bought out, the Heat and Clippers may have interest in adding the former All-Star, says Fischer.
- With the team’s youth movement fully underway, the Spurs are ready for an offseason typical of San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich: one full of Popovich’s exacting standards, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Third-year forward Keldon Johnson knows what to expect from Popovich, who wants to see Johnson improve his defense. “He’s hard on me because he wants me to be great,” Johnson said. “If it was anything different, I wouldn’t want that.” McDonald writes that San Antonio All-Star guard Dejounte Murray will need Johnson, forward Devin Vassell, and rookie shooting guard Joshua Primo to develop for the Spurs to return to the playoffs.