NBA restart: Pelicans to face Jazz this evening

The 2019-2020 NBA restarts this evening — with the New Orleans Pelicans facing off against the Utah Jazz at the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida. 


The Pelicans arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with a 28-36 record and 10th in the Western Conference, falling short of catching the Memphis Grizzlies (8th seed, 32-33) for the last spot in the conference playoffs before the season was postponed in March due to COVID-19. However, the Pels were invited, as well as other teams just outside the playoff picture, to the bubble because they were within six games of their respective conference’s 8th seed. 


Every team in the bubble will play eight regular-season games to determine playoff seeding. For both conferences, there will be a play-in series if the 9th seed is within four games of the 8th seed. The 8th seed would need two wins to advance, and the 9th seed would only need one. 


Going undefeated in scrimmages inside the bubble, the Pelicans are carrying some momentum into tonight’s matchup. 


Star rookie forward Zion Williamson cleared his four-day quarantine on Tuesday, following being away from the bubble for 12 days to deal with a family matter. However, coach Alvin Gentry told reporters on Wednesday that he is a game-time decision. 


“Obviously as a coach you want him out there as much as you can possibly have him out there,” Gentry said. “We have guys that are better equipped to make those decisions than I am from a health standpoint and a minutes played standpoint. It’ll be collectively something that’s done by sitting down and talking about it and figuring it out if he does end up playing.”


“I was able to do some body workouts, just to keep my muscles going,” Williamson said at a press conference on Wednesday. “…I was dealing with a family emergency, so it’s God first and family. So basketball wasn’t really there; I was dealing with something serious.”


Williamson also said he wants to play, but he and his team want what’s best for his future and safety.


“The NBA isn’t something you can usually just jump straight into, especially off stuff like [family emergency],” he added. “So I think, me and my team are gonna look to see what’s best, and if I’m ready to go out there.”


Pelicans vs. Jazz starts at 5:30 p.m. and can be watched on TNT and Fox Sports New Orleans. 


Image courtesy of Pelicans social media.