Many playoff outcomes still in play for New Orleans Pelicans in final week of regular season

As Pelicans begin final stretch of season, Willie Green is optimistic team is finding a rhythm
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Starting Tuesday, the New Orleans Pelicans will play a stretch of four games in six days that will determine whether they make playoffs outright, qualify for the play-in tournament or miss the postseason altogether.

The amount of possible outcomes is dizzying. That is why Willie Green is emphasizing the old coaching cliché of taking each game one at a time.

“Yes, we all look at the standings,” Green said Monday. “It changes every few minutes. That’s a part of being a human being in life. But let’s focus on Sacramento. Then let’s go from there.”

Only four games separate the fifth-place Los Angeles Clippers (41-38) from the 11th-place Dallas Mavericks (37-42). The eighth-place Pelicans (40-38) are in the middle of that pack of teams. They need one win in any of their final four games to clinch a spot in the play-in tournament.

The website PlayoffStatus.com gives the Pelicans a 21% chance to finish fifth; a 22% chance to finish sixth; a 17% chance to finish seventh; a 17% chance to finish eighth; and a 20% chance to finish ninth.

“From four down to 12 — you can play any of those teams,” Green said. “We just know all those teams are good teams. Solid teams. And so are we. We can be matched up against anybody.”

Green’s Pelicans are peaking at the right time. Consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets in mid-March dropped the Pelicans to four games under .500. Their postseason hopes were on life support. Since then, they have responded by winning seven of eight games.

Brandon Ingram is playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 30.3 points (53.2% FG), 6.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists over that stretch. He has recorded two triple-doubles after not having one in his first six years in the NBA.

“He’s on another level right now,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “I don’t want to jinx it. There are some of the shots he makes, we sit on the bench sometimes and are like, ‘He’s just better. He’s just better than you.’ Good defense. Better offense. That kind of thing.”

Ingram has never played on a team that’s finished the regular season with a winning record. Winning two or more of their remaining games means the Pelicans would finish the regular season above .500 for the first time since 2017-18.

“Brandon has the ability to rise to the occasion, to rise to the moment,” Green said. “We were at a point in the season where if we don’t win a lot of these games, we are probably on the outside looking in. Because of his play and his teammates supporting him, we’re in a position to make a postseason appearance or a playoff appearance.”

It remains unclear if Zion Williamson will play again for the Pelicans this season. He has been sidelined for the past three months with a right hamstring injury. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Williamson recently played “low-intensity 3-on-3.”

Green said Williamson did not practice Monday. The Pelicans have one practice left in the regular season, which is scheduled for Saturday. 

Williamson wanted to play during the Pelicans’ postseason run last year, but he was not medically cleared until after his team was eliminated. He has played in 29 games this season.

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About Marc Lemoine 1340 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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