Key Pelicans contributor nears return for playoff push

Feb 27, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green coaches against
Feb 27, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green coaches against / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans are 36-25 entering tonight's matchup against the Raptors. New Orleans has 21 games remaining in their season and have everything to play for.

Sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference, New Orleans faces a 3.5 game difference between them and the Clippers for home court advantage in the first round. On the other side of the coin, they sit a game and a half up on the Sacramento Kings in the race to avoid the Play-In Tournament.

The Pelicans have stayed relatively healthy this season, but the franchise suffered a loss weeks ago when Dyson Daniels went down. The second-year guard was averaging 5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 21 minutes per game. The statistics aren't impressive, but Daniels role as a third lead ball handler behind CJ McCollum and Jose Alvarado is imperitive to the team's long-term success.

According to Erin Summers, Daniels has been getting shots up at practice. The former eighth overall pick's presence was missed during a two-game stretch in February where both McCollum and Alvarado were unable to play. The Pelicans need a third full-time initator, and Daniels is just that.

Daniels underwent a procedure following a torn meniscus on February 12th. The team announced that his status would be reevaluated in four weeks. Next week makes four from the original update, and Daniels return would be a boon for the Pelicans down the stretch.

New Orleans crosses the border to take on the Toronto Raptors tonight in what is a must-win for the Pelicans. The playoff race in the Western Conference is too tight for the Pels to lose games against middling teams like the Raptors. Toronto is missing All-Star forward Scottie Barnes, limiting their potential. Stay tuned to Pelican Debrief for coverage of tonight's game.