(SportsNetwork.com) - Playoff ramifications run huge Wednesday night when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Smoothie King Center to take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
Let's get the easy one out of the way first. If the Pelicans win, they will be the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and face the Golden State Warriors in round one.
If they lose and the Oklahoma City Thunder lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, New Orleans gets the postseason berth since it owns the tiebreaker over OKC.
If the Pelicans lose Wednesday and the Thunder win, Oklahoma City gets the eighth seed.
Things are far more complicated for the defending NBA champion Spurs, but only if they lose on Wednesday. If they win, they take the Southwest Division title and the No. 2 seed, setting up a first-round rematch with the Dallas Mavericks, the only team who challenged the Spurs' march to a title last season.
If the Spurs lose, and the Houston Rockets lose to the Utah Jazz at home and the Memphis Grizzlies lose to the Indiana Pacers at home, then the division goes to the Spurs, but the Los Angeles Clippers would be the No. 2 seed and San Antonio three.
If the Spurs lose, and the Rockets win, the Rockets win the division. If Memphis wins under that same scenario, the Spurs would be the sixth seed and play the Clippers in the opening round. If Memphis loses, the Spurs would be fifth and play the Portland Trail Blazers.
However, if the Spurs lose, the Rockets lose and Memphis wins, the Spurs would take the division and be third in the West, setting up a matchup with the Rockets in the first round.
The Spurs have won 11 straight and took down the Phoenix Suns, 107-91, Sunday night in San Antonio.
Reigning Western Conference Player of the Week Tim Duncan scored 22 points with 10 rebounds and four assists to lead the Spurs.
"He always seems to get excited this time of year," Popovich said of Duncan. "He is steady all year long and then raises it to even another level when this time of year comes. It's remarkable on his part."
Kawhi Leonard had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph each had 13 points off the bench in the win.
For New Orleans, that eighth seed is at stake and a first playoff appearance since the 2010-11 season.
The Pelicans defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-88, at the Target Center Monday night.
Anthony Davis totaled 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks to lead New Orleans to set up this gigantic matchup on Wednesday.
"This is the next step as a team," Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said when asked about Wednesday's must-win game. "We can't run from it. We're going to play the champs. This is what we've worked for."
Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon both added 22 points in New Orleans' seventh win in the past 10 games.
New Orleans rested Jrue Holiday on the second game of a back-to-back, but he is expected to play on Wednesday.
The Pelicans went 2-1 against the Spurs this season.