Atlanta Hawks vs. New Orleans Pelicans Pick & Prediction MARCH 10th 2024

The visiting New Orleans Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks will each put their three-game winning streaks on the line Sunday when they meet for the final time of the regular season.

New Orleans is coming off a 103-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, holding on after nearly blowing a 35-point lead. The Pelicans are No 5 in the Western Conference and trail the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers by three games.

Atlanta defeated Memphis 99-92 on Friday and solidified its place at No. 10 in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks hold a four-game lead over Brooklyn and trail No. 9 Chicago by two games.

This will be the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Hawks prevailed 123-105 on Nov. 4 in New Orleans. They split the series a year ago.

The Hawks have been playing short-handed. Trae Young (26.4 points, 10.8 assists per game) has missed seven games since having surgery to repair the ligament in the little finger of his left hand and is out for at least two more weeks. Jalen Johnson did not play Friday because of an ankle sprain two days earlier and is listed as day-to-day. Onyeka Okongwu has missed the last nine games because of a left big toe sprain.

The Hawks rode the scoring of Dejounte Murray on Friday. He matched his career high with 41 points, the third time he’s posted that number. Murray is averaging 24.3 points and has scored 20-plus points in five of the seven games since Young’s injury.

“You go out with whoever is healthy and the game plan doesn’t change as far as what we’re trying to do on the defensive end together,” Murray said.

Atlanta’s defensive efforts must include plans to slow New Orleans’ Zion Williamson. He had 23 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks — including a highlight-reel block on Kelly Oubre Jr. — in Friday’s win and put up 25 points against Atlanta in the first game. In three career games against Atlanta, Williamson is averaging 29.3 points.

“Zion did a fantastic job on defense,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said “That block (against Oubre) was huge. He was kind of getting it going. Z came over weak side in help. Huge block.”

But the Pelicans can’t afford another second-half swoon against Atlanta. New Orleans saw its lead dwindle from 35 points to five points with 45 seconds remaining. Green said his team can’t afford a dip in intensity.

“When you have your foot on a team’s neck, you keep it there,” Green said. “You don’t allow them to get back into the game and get a rhythm and regain momentum. Give (Philadelphia) credit, but some of the ownership of the second half is on us.”

Said the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram: “A win is a win, and we found a way at the end of the game to pull it through. That’s all that matters.”

New Orleans is trying to complete a sweep of its three-game road swing.

“I just think it’s that dog mindset,” Williamson said. “When you’re playing on someone’s turf, you want to leave with the win. We take stuff like that personally.”

–Field Level Media

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