Sports | August 3, 2020 1:06 pm

Limiting Zion Williamson’s Minutes May Cost Pelicans a Playoff Spot

Williamson has played just 29 total minutes in the Pelicans' first two games of the NBA's restart

NBA star Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans in March
Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans in March.
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Playing it safe with their long-term investment may cost the New Orleans Pelicans their shot at the playoffs this season.

The Pelicans have been limiting No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson’s minutes during the NBA’s restart after he missed 13 days of basketball activity leading up to the team’s first game in the bubble due to a family medical emergency.

Williamson, who missed the first 44 games of the NBA season, has been limited to “burst restrictions” in the team’s first two games and has played just 29 total minutes.

“It’s very tough, to be honest, because as soon as I start to break that sweat, I look over and that horn is for me and I have to come out the game,” Williamson said Sunday. “Also, when I do catch the flow of the game, like I said, that horn goes off and it’s for me.”

New Orleans has lost both games and the Pelicans have slid into a tie for 11th place in the Western Conference with the Sacramento Kings, 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

The Pelicans will take on the Grizzlies on Monday night and it is a crucial game if the team wants to salvage its chances of getting into a play-in series for the NBA playoffs.

Due to Williamson’s star power, the NBA would love for the Pelicans to qualify for the postseason to set up a first-round matchup against LeBron James and the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

The last time the two teams played, the game averaged a 1.7 rating and 2.69 million viewers on ESPN, making it the third-most watched game of the year at the time.

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