The Pelican Blog

Vegas Day 10 notebook: Five wins to a title

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

LAS VEGAS – Here’s the latest news on what’s now a game day for the 11th-seeded New Orleans Pelicans (2-1). The Pelicans face the 22nd-seeded Denver Nuggets (0-3) at 5 p.m. Central today (on NBA TV) in the opening round of the inaugural Las Vegas summer league tournament:

NBA Summer League• In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament each March, the majority of teams are required to win six times in order to secure the national championship. That’s only one more victory than the Pelicans will need over the next six days to capture the first-ever NBA Summer League crown in Las Vegas. The following is what New Orleans must do to be crowned champions in this brand-new “July Madness” bracket:
1) Win Wednesday vs. No. 22 Denver (5 p.m. Central on NBA TV)
2) Win Thursday vs. No. 6 Toronto in the Round of 16 (5 p.m. Central on NBA TV)
3) Win Saturday in the quarterfinals vs. survivor of Phoenix/Atlanta/Portland (5 p.m. Central on NBA TV)
4) Win Sunday in the semifinals (5 p.m Central on NBA TV)
5) Win Monday in the finals (8 p.m. Central on NBA TV)

In other words, the Pelicans must win five consecutive games over the next six days, a grueling stretch that could’ve been made slightly easier if they had been rewarded with a first-round bye. Unfortunately, New Orleans finished seventh in a seven-way tie of teams with 2-1 records. Every other 2-1 team here in Las Vegas is off today as a result of getting an opening-round bye.

Although the format for the league’s tournament is single-elimination, every team is guaranteed to play a total of at least five games in Las Vegas (including three in the just-completed preliminary stage). If New Orleans loses Wednesday’s game vs. Denver, it will be pushed into the loser’s bracket and play Friday at 3 p.m. Central against the loser of Washington/Memphis. If the Pelicans win today, they are guaranteed at least two more games, because in that scenario even if they were to lose to the Raptors on Thursday, they will still be moved into Friday’s loser’s bracket and play at 7:30 p.m. Central on NBA.com.

• The Pelicans will have a fairly large advantage in rest time entering Wednesday’s game vs. the Nuggets. By tip-off, New Orleans will have had 46 hours since its last game Monday. Denver’s game last night did not wrap up until 11 p.m. Central time, just 18 hours before today’s jump ball.

• From the always-helpful folks at NBA Summer League, click through to print out a PDF of the 22-team bracket.

• Through the three-game preliminary round, Austin Rivers is the league’s seventh-leading scorer at 17.3 points per game. Lance Thomas and Jon Brockman both rank in the top 20 in rebounding.