Pelicans defy playoff odds, as Heat look to advance

New Orleans defies all predictions.

The Pelicans are the first team in 46 years to finish a season 10 or more games under .500 and then win at least two playoff games — and that’s not even counting the two in-game wins just to officially reach the playoffs.

The last team to pull off such a trick was the Detroit Pistons, who were 36-46 when they won four playoff games in two different series in the 1976 playoffs.

But New Orleans changed that and sometimes made it look easy.

The Pelicans went 36-46 and finished 28 games behind the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the standings this season. It doesn’t matter now, not with their first-round playoff series tied 2-2 heading into the deciding Game 5 in Phoenix on Tuesday night.

“I think this is our moment,” said Brandon Ingram of New Orleans. “We have worked so hard throughout the year to become a better team.”

The Pelicans-Suns game is one of three on Tuesday’s schedule: top-seeded Miami looks to eliminate eighth-seeded Atlanta in Game 5 of this series, and second-seeded Memphis hosts the Minnesota, seeded seventh, in Game 5 of this tied game. -up matchup.

Phoenix led 53-34 at halftime in Game 1 against New Orleans. The Pelicans have beaten the Suns in nine of 14 quarters played in the series since. And in the 2½ games since Phoenix lost Devin Booker to a hamstring injury, the Pelicans have beaten the Suns 277-257.

In Game 4, New Orleans rocked the first seed in the streak. Suns goaltender Chris Paul committed three types of fouls — personal, flagrant and technical — in 99 seconds in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans pulled away for a tied victory.

“I’ll be better in Game 5,” Paul said. “Must be there.”

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