How Zion Williamson injury affects Warriors, NBA playoff chase

How Zion injury impacts Warriors, Kings in playoff chase originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

One of the Warriors’ competitors for a Western Conference playoff spot hit a bump on the road on Friday, as the New Orleans Pelicans announced that star forward Zion Williamson will be sidelined indefinitely with a fractured ring finger.

The Pelicans are just on the edge of the playoff picture in the West. New Orleans is 11th in the West going into Friday’s games, standing a game and a half back of the San Antonio Spurs for the 10-seed.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick has been one of the league’s most efficient offensive players this season, scoring 27.0 points per game while shooting an astounding 61.1 percent from the field.

The Warriors just completed a back-to-back series with the Pelicans in New Orleans, with each team coming away with a win. Williamson averaged 27.5 points and 10.0 rebounds over the pair of games.

Without Williamson, it seems likely the Pelicans won’t be able to overtake San Antonio for that final spot in the play-in tournament.

This also opens the door for the Kings, who are a game behind New Orleans in the West, to try and climb into the play-in conversation.

One of the Warriors’ final five games will come against the depleted Pelicans, which improves their chances of potentially securing a better spot in the play-in tournament, or even finding a way to get up to the sixth seed and avoid the new play-in format entirely.

Among the Pelicans’ final few opponents are the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers, two teams the Warriors also are jostling for playoff position with. Memphis is a half-game behind the Warriors for eighth, and the Lakers are tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for sixth in the West.

Only two of the Kings’ final six regular-season games will come against teams below them in the West standings, so any help from the Pelicans potentially sliding would be welcomed in Sacramento.

Story continues

The Kings are 2.5 games behind San Antonio for the 10th seed going into Friday night’s clash between the teams, a game in which Sacramento once again won’t have star point guard De’Aaron Fox.

Either way, one of the game’s most exciting players now will be out for the foreseeable future as the NBA playoffs loom.

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