The Willie Green era has definitely kept fans on edge and engaged, that's one fact fans cannot deny. The New Orleans Pelicans just finished one of the franchise's best regular seasons ever (49 wins) but are once again stuck in an elimination game. They are still playing to keep their postseason hopes alive knowing full well the job is far from complete.

Thankfully, the Pelicans get the Sacramento Kings at home in the Smoothie King Center for the final NBA Play-In Tournament fixture. Green's group is just average on their home court but has yet to be defeated by Sacramento this season. The Pelicans are 5-0 against the Kings including an NBA In-Season Tournament win.

Larry Nance Jr. is always a confident voice but the well-traveled veteran is letting the locker room know to check any cocky attitudes at the door.

“There’s a difference between confidence and cockiness,” Nance Jr. stated. “We’re going to go into (Friday) confident because we deserve to and earned the right to go in confident. But we ain’t going in cocky. We recognize where we’re at. We just lost two (games) to the Lakers on our home court. I don’t know if it’s ever been done, beating a team six times. It’s something we know is not going to be easy or a walk in the park.”

Green has the same message but this needs to be a consensus approach. The Pelicans cannot put up with another lashing out like Brandon Ingram after the loss to the Lakers.

“Right now we have to block that out,” Green declared. “Yes, we’ll watch some tape on them. We have a recipe of what we believe allowed us to be successful, but this is going to be a different game. We have to embrace that. I’m extremely excited about the opportunity we’ve given ourselves.”

Pelicans plan to lean on Brandon Ingram

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) is is introduced before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers in a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Smoothie King Center.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Fans are not happy about paying for extra games that could have been avoided. However, all will be forgiven if New Orleans can pull out a win. Zion Williamson is out for at least two weeks but a series against the Oklahoma City Thunder would be very informative for the Pelicans front office. Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones could use the extra postseason reps as the organization looks toward the next three to five years.

Green is full of belief regardless of any injuries. That's been a recurring theme of his tenure. The team's potential has arguably never been greater though.

“I have a ton of confidence in this group,” continued Green. “We’ve been in this scenario before. We’ve been in these types of games before. They’re well aware of what’s ahead of us. We know we’ve beaten Sacramento five times (in 2023-24), but this is different. This sixth game is going to be the hardest.”

The most difficult part of the job has been replacing Williamson in the lineup. Green will have to lean on Ingram and CJ McCollum to get past De'Aaron Fox and Domontas Sabonis.

“(Ingram) had a great practice today, came in early (yesterday) to get some work in. He’s knocking off some rust. He’s been out for four weeks or so. He looked great today. He’s playing with force, had a really good practice, sharp, and we look forward to him getting back on the floor tomorrow and getting after it.”