There were bright spots for the Pels, but none bright enough to avoid being eclipsed by the sheer force of the Warriors attack.
The Golden State Warriors started the second round off on the right foot, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 123-101 on Saturday at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are a dynasty in the making, and they still have the better team. "Very few people saw the Pelicans winning the series, but of all the possible matchups, Portland was about the best they could have gotten".
The Warriors had 10 more wins despite their litany of injuries, are the defending champions and should be getting Steph Curry back at some point in the series. They adapted seamlessly to a new playoff opponent that boasts more depth and plays at a faster pace.
The Pelicans opted to go with a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, E'Twaun Moore, Nikola Mirotic, and Anthony Davis. When he missed a shot, sometimes he drooped his shoulders and trudged back on defense with his head down. Or just throw their entire team at him, hoping Holiday, Mirotic and Co. don't make them pay? Even Draymond Green, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, isn't a good match-up to guard Davis. And taking the place of Davis Bertans you have Anthony Davis, arguably the best all-around player in the National Basketball Association. We'll get the first part of our answer tonight.
Green finished with his fourth career postseason triple double.
Draymond Green was by far one of the most impressive players on the floor on Tuesday against the Pelicans (+28), finishing with 16 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals and two blocks on 5-of-9 shooting. Here are three factors that could help the Pelicans potentially beat a vulnerable Warriors team. The Warriors also dominated the Pelicans in rebounding (14-10), while forcing five turnovers and committing only one. That's a big problem.
Of course, there's a pretty big disparity between the Warriors and Blazers. "We don't want to play dumb. It gives you a great gauge as to where your franchise is, and where your team is, and where you need to get to really". They did this against Portland to great effect, and again, the shortened rotations make all the difference here. "But there's always a balance", Kerr said.
"I try to think about what it means to get back in not just game shape - my normal minutes I usually play - but on top of that, we're talking about the playoffs and the second round".
What was Curry's case? I'm expecting Clark to have at least one "revenge" game, but the rest of the Pelicans bench has yet to prove their up to the task.
"We have to protect him from himself and his own competitive desire, " Kerr said.
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