Pelicans lean on CJ McCollum's postseason experience for play-in game against Spurs

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) reacts after scoring against the Miami Heat in the...
New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) reacts after scoring against the Miami Heat in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)(AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - CJ McCollum is a nine-year veteran, and entering this season, he never missed the playoffs. He hopes to continue that streak here in New Orleans, but it’s different this year, with the Pels and McCollum in the play-in game.

“I love to watch it, hate to play in it,” the Pelicans guard said. “I think it’s good for the league. It’s good for fans. It makes it more competitive. It makes the last quarter of the season more competitive. Yeah, we’re looking forward to it.”

To claim the eighth and final Western Conference spot in the NBA’s postseason tournament, the No. 9 Pelicans must defeat the visiting No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at the Smoothie King Center on Wednesday night, then also beat the No. 8 Clippers on Friday night in Los Angeles.

“(The Pelicans) did a great job of turning the season around,” said McCollum, who was acquired in a seven-player trade with Portland on Feb. 8. “I wasn’t here early on. I think they started off 1-12, 1-13. It shows how they stuck together, how they fought through adversity. How much growth the team has had. I’m thankful to be a part of it, happy I can help. Get into this position where they have a chance, we have a chance to get some postseason experience.”

The Pelicans last played in the postseason in 2018. Their roster is very young, so they’re leaning on McCollum for some playoff knowledge.

“Just enjoy the moment. Prepare, obviously focus in on the game plan, the scouting, watch the film,” he said. “Understand the position, and understand the other positions on the court. Also, don’t put much pressure on yourself.

“It’s just a game, at the end of the day. You obviously prepare, we’ve played this team a few times. Stakes are raised, possessions will matter. But don’t overanalyze it. Just go out there and hoop.”

In those 2018 playoffs, the Pelicans won their first-round matchup, against McCollum’s Blazers.

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