SuperTalk Mississippi
Latest News Sports

Pelicans look to shake Jekyll and Hyde nature in play-in game against Lakers

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson takes a shot over Lakers guard LeBron James during a game on Dec. 6, 2023 (Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Pelicans)

After a 124-108 loss at home to Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, the New Orleans Pelicans are set to play in their third consecutive play-in game and against no other than the Lakers.

For a New Orleans team that has won five straight road games, finished the regular season 16 games above .500, and made it through the year with no major injuries, why does another appearance in the play-in game make it feel like the Pelicans have vastly underachieved?

Zion effect?

For the last few years – regardless of his personal life or injuries – New Orleans All Star forward Zion Williamson has been a force to be reckoned with when on the court. While the Pelicans have done a good job of taking pressure off him this season with other players contributing more, there have been a handful of games where Williamson looked lost – especially the last two against the Lakers. Are the Lakers his kryptonite? Williamson will have another chance to prove they’re not during Tuesday’s play-in game.

Regarding his health, Williamson has managed to stay off the IR list, pleasing critics and fans alike. He is averaging 23 points per game but has not been making it to three free throw line (5.5 attempts per game) as you would like to see out of your star post player. On the flip side, the former Duke All-American has been a big reason the Pelicans finished the season No. 8 in total defense.

Willie Green effect?

Green’s work in New Orleans has been commendable. Taking the job back in the 2021-2022 season, Green has increased the team’s win total from 36 wins in his first season to 42 last season to now 49 wins this season. Prior to Green being hired, the Pelicans were on a streak of three losing seasons thanks to Alvin Gentry and Stan Van Gundy. While fans are way happier now than they were three years ago, they’re also wanting the Pelicans to be a pure playoff team and not have to go through the play-in round season after season. As a clam and stoic figure overseeing the locker room, does Green have enough firepower to pull this team through the first round of the playoffs?

“I’m grateful to coach a high character team with a bunch of great guys,” Green said after Sunday’s loss. “We don’t have much to say after the game; we know what we’re playing for.”

Problems in the blender?

Best overall record since 2007-08 aside, the Pelicans have persistently struggled at home. The NBA’s best away record (28-14) has had to suffice as New Orleans is just two games above .500 at the Smoothie King Center this season and 1-6 over their last seven. Now is not the time to be losing in front of your home fans as you’re about to host the biggest game of the season up until this point.


If there is a major silver lining heading into Tuesday night, it’s that the Big Three is finally taking shape in New Orleans. Knock on wood; Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and C.J. McCollum have managed to stay healthy as postseason play begins. There’s no doubt the team is better when those three are together.

Game info

The No. 7 seed Pelicans will host the No. 8 seed Lakers on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game can be watched on TNT or the TNT app. As of Monday afternoon, Los Angeles was a 1.5-point favorite. The winner will play against the No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets in round one of the playoffs. The loser will play against the winner of the No. 9n seed Sacramento Kings and the No. 10 seed Golden State Warriors to earn a berth against No. 1 seed Oklahoma City.

Stay up to date with all of Mississippi’s latest news by signing up for our free newsletter here

Copyright 2024 SuperTalk Mississippi Media. All rights reserved.

Related posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More