The New Orleans heard a wide variety of opinions throughout the NBA All-Star break. Those narratives were all paired with the same hedged bet soundbite: at least the team was relatively healthy. Well, that good luck fell by the wayside just two games into the regular season's stretch run. Willie Green could be missing more than half of the normal rotation when the Chicago Bulls visit the Crescent City.

The Pelicans (34-23) have flaws, but a lack of fighting spirit is not on the list. Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall could be suspended before Chicago unpacks their bags in the Big Easy. Then there is the ever-present injury bug that New Orleans had mostly avoided this season. The unlucky creature developed an appetite at the wrong time.

Dyson Daniels (left knee meniscectomy) is still recovering from surgery and will be rehabbing for at least another three weeks. Green's Pelicans were prepared to deal with one key reserve being on the shelf. Now the Pelicans are also listing Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum on the injury report.

Williamson (left foot contusion) and Ingram (non-COVID illness) are listed as questionable. McCollum has already been ruled out due to his left ankle sprain. The four injury-listed players are in the top six in total on-court minutes this season. Green depends on the foursome for around 117 of a game's 240 available rotation minutes. They contribute a combined 68.2 points, 18.5 rebounds, 18 assists and 4.2 steals per game. Those are some big shoes Jordan Hawkins and Larry Nance Jr. must help fill.

The Pelicans rely on the energy of Alvarado and Marshall. New Orleans needs wins no matter who plays, though. They are sitting in fifth place but are only one game above the ninth-placed Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls are in ninth in the Eastern Conference, five games from eighth and four games up on the struggling Brooklyn Nets (11th). Green's group needs this home win far more than Chicago's also-ran roster.

Pelicans approaching Bulls with caution

If Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are on the court, running everything through the All-Stars and Jonas Valanciunas should be a winning gameplan. Green will have to get creative versus Chicago if Williamson and Ingram are unavailable, however.

Valanciunas will start opposite Nikola Vucevic in the big-man battle. Larry Nance Jr. will look to head off DeMar DeRozan if Williamson sits out. Herb Jones must corral new national media darling Coby White. Trey Murphy III and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl have to match shots with Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso. Green's will have to match wits with a crafty Billy Donovan.

Alvarado and Marshall could get hit with suspensions at any moment before tip-off on Sunday evening. The Big 3 might take the cautious approach before playing five of the next six games on the road. The Pelicans recalled Jalen Crutcher, E.J. Liddell, Malcolm Hill, and Dereon Seabron from G League affiliate Birmingham Squadron just in case.

The Pelicans usually lean to the cautious side with injuries. Chicago will be without Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery), Torrey Craig (right knee sprain), Zach LaVine (right midfoot surgery), and Patrick Williams (left midfoot bone edema). This game could get sloppy with so many stars watching from the sidelines. Still, the defensive-minded Green has got to find a way to coax a win out of a skeleton crew squad. The Western Conference playoff race is too tight to drop home games against likely lottery teams.