Louisiana has always been known as a football state. From the New Orleans Saints to LSU to UL to even McNesse & Louisiana Tech, Louisiana supports their respective football teams. Well, I'm here to tell you that basketball lives in New Orleans and Louisiana, and here's why you should become a Pelicans fan!

Last night the Pelicans played their first postseason game of the 2021-2022 season(the play-in is the playoffs, I don't care what the league markets it as.). The Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-103.

The play-in game was a game that represented everything the Pelicans and head coach Willie Green have been striving for all season. The team started out horrendously, so much so that national media was calling for Zion Williamson to leave the organization. However, that did not deter Coach Green. He continuously preached to stay the course, believe in each other, believe in the work you put in, and we will be successful. Green's words were never more true than last night.

Green has this team loving the game of basketball. Before former Pelican Josh Hart was traded he gave Coach Green high praise by stating he made me fall in love with the game of basketball again. Coach Green not only transformed this team but has instilled in it a mindset of never quitting and continuing the work. Last night the Pelicans were in a situation where they gave up their lead and the Spurs cut it to 6 points. The Pelicans of old would've found a way to lose, but instead, the team galvanized under two big shots from Brandon Ingram and the game was over.

However coaches don't win games, players do. And the Pelicans have some great players. Last night Brandon Ingram showed why he is one of the cornerstones of this franchise. He put up 27 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds all while shooting 57.9% from the field. The veteran leader and former all-star CJ McCollum was also monumental for the Pelicans last night. He scored 32 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds while shooting 52.2% from the field and 60% from 3. And finally, the big man inside Jonas Valanciunas added 22 points and 14 rebounds.

Those are the stars of the Pelicans; however, they are more than just those three names. Two names in particular Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado were incredible. Herb a second-round draft steal was phenomenal on defense and is a player that the pelicans will try to keep around as long as they can. This dude is a game-changer. And then you have the feisty Alvarado. A player who went undrafted and worked his way to being the backup point guard over veteran Devonte Graham. Seeing two guys who are rookies get meaningful minutes and really contribute to this team is a testament to the culture Coach Green and the Pelicans are building.

 

This time feels different with the Pelicans. As fans, we've been down this road before. The team is young and shows promise, where you believe now is the time, and boom catastrophe. This time however it feels different. From CJ McCollum & Coach Green stating this is the start of something new, it just feels that this time it's serious. This team has the tools to be successful. A 3 level scoring lead guard who is a leader in McCollum, you also have a big man who I believe is a top 10(he's number 5) center in the NBA in Valanciunas, a 3 level scorer who is young and becoming better and better every day in Brandon Ingram, and the right kind of guys as role players like Jones and Alvarado. This is all without mentioning Zion Williamson.

No matter if this team wins another game this postseason, the future is bright. The young guys will be more experienced and better next season. The health of this team should improve. Brandon Ingram will continue to get stronger. The team has a top 10 pick courtesy of Anthony Davis and the Lakers. And oh yeah Zion Williamson will be back!

This is the start of sustained success. The organization and the players believe it. Its time for the state to believe it too. I know we've been duped before. But everything this team has shown from rebounding from a 1-12 record to hiring the right coach to drafting the incredible draft class of 2021 to acquiring McCollum and Valanciunas this season, this team is ready to take the next steps and become successful in this league. And the game against the Spurs showed how much fun the Smoothie King Center can be when the fans have the building jumping. Everything is set up for the Pelicans to be that next great young team. All they need now is your support. It's not too late to hop on the train, and you should do it before you become a band-wagoner.

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