There wasn’t anyone that truly thought the New Orleans Pelicans would stand much of a chance against the Golden State Warriors. However, given what the Warriors looked like on offense against the San Antonio Spurs and Anthony Davis’ thoroughly dominant performance in sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers, there was at least some credence to the Warriors in 6 prediction. Narrator: no.
Just like in Game 1 against the Spurs, the Warriors flipped the switch on almost immediately. The matchups were junky and the Pelicans started out scoring the exact same way they did against Portland. Anthony Davis skied for dunks and layups repeatedly. Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday got to the rim and made good decision on kicks out to E’twaun Moore who torched a starting Nick Young for 9 1st quarter points.
Whereas some teams are unable or too stiff to make adjustments, the Warriors are the league’s best at figuring out your weakness and exploiting it to the point of total destruction. Draymond started on Rajon Rondo and became completely locked in by shifting down on Nikola Mirotic postups, helping Kevon Looney force the ball away from AD for an entire quarter, and closed down all driving lanes for a Pels’ guard rotation that simply couldn’t create. Draymond and KD then combined for 28 boards en route to a 57-42 edge. A team known for being too small at times, the Warriors annihilated the Pelicans’ attack with length and IQ.
And so began the 2nd quarter attack. 41-21. And a 28-point lead at its peak. The defense suffocated everything. And the offense outsmarted and outmoved every single player possible, from Ian Clark to Anthony Davis to Mirotic, to everyone on a short Pel’s bench. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and the big men found wide open dunks at the rim as Klay and KD cut to the top of the arc off backscreens. A simple play, but an impossible guard for a Pelicans team that couldn’t adjust after playing a stagnant and unimaginative Blazers offense. “It’s probably the loudest Oracle has been all year,” Kerr had to say after the game. And it likely came after Klay Thompson danced around off the ball against KD and Jrue Holiday, both times finding wide open 3s and a bench that nearly spilled onto the court.
“He’s very contagious, he’s going to yell at you a couple times, but that’s OK. It’s the same as when Steph hits a couple shots..it’s the same exact momentum we can build.” Klay on Draymond’s defense just about says it all as to the sound of the building and the adrenaline that coursed through the roster and really, the entire franchise for the first time all season. Kerr’s throwaway stated that it had been a weird season but this game felt like the start to the Warriors we have seen many times before.
They were always going to win this game, and this series. What makes the Warriors the Warriors has always been the way they win. They fluster you into uncharacteristic turnovers on offense, and run you over to the point of a team fully in the headlights on offense. It hasn’t been consistently possible, if even at all, without Stephen Curry but it came at the perfect time as the Warriors now stand just 3 wins away from a titanic matchup against Houston.
1. “I might not look like I’m having a lot of fun out there, but I really enjoy what I do.” Leave it to Klay to have the best quote of the night.
2. Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic turned back into the average NBA players they are. It’s not a knock to them but was a testament to just how awful Portland’s play and gameplan truly was in the first round.
3. Nick Young started. And that’s about it. He wasn’t awful but wasn’t great. He won’t see much run the rest of the postseason with Steph just a game away.
4. Kevon Looney is a favorite whipping boy of mine but his IQ is eons ahead of JaVale McGee and Jordan Bell, allowing him to play over 20 minutes of true time before garbage time. He competed against Ad fadeaways, made them tough, and made some very nice interior passes to the corners on the way to 3 assists. There’s more Looney coming not just this series but onwards.
5. Draymond Green with an Honest Triple Double of 16-15-11 to go along with 3 steals and 2 blocks. He’s still the best defensive player in the world.
6. Durant didn’t have his greatest shooting night, going 10-21, but the Pelicans have no answer for him. Mirotic can’t stay in front, Jrue is too short, and AD is much too occupied as is on both sides of the floor. The Warriors are going to score this series.
7. Steph Back.