Keys to Round 1

What is “a” or “the” key to the series with the Trail Blazers? What is something else to keep an eye on that might be under-discussed?

42: I think the key to the series is rendering Nurkic ineffective. Whether this is Davis or Mirotic just outplaying him on both ends, whoever frustrating him, putting him into foul trouble, whatever. It’ll likely be different things on different nights. You knock out the main effective big they have, and suddenly you have possession efficiency that would make Morey weep.

In terms of an sort of X-factor, I’m watching Diallo. this might be an opponent that allows him to shine. He might be artificially big in this game, but not the primary big. Could look like a coming out part, rightly or wrongly.

Levy: The biggest thing is our role players continuing to play well. Jrue and Davis have been consistent all year. We can’t afford for Miller, Moore, and Mirotic to all go cold at once.

Nick: Jrue and Rondo ended their regular season with a few great games. I think the key to the Blazers series for the Pelicans is that.

Grayson: For me it’ll come down to the role players. We all know how great Lillard and Davis are going to be. McCollum and Holiday will chip in to varying degrees. However, if the Pelicans get outstanding play from Mirotic, Moore, Clark, Rondo moreso than the Blazers and Nurkic, Napier, Turner then I’d say they have a big chance to win the series.

Michael Pellissier: Nurkic’s performance in this series is going to be key. Lillard and CJ require so much attention that it often leaves Nurkic 1 v 1 on the boards against our smaller frontcourt players, and that could become a big problem for the Pelicans, who have been one of the worst defensive rebounding teams since Cousins went down. If the Pelicans have to devote extra attention to the boards, they won’t be able to get into their offense as quickly, and they’ll need every easy shot they can get vs a stout Portland defense.

Patrick Fenerty: One key will be using the mid-range effectively without falling in love with it. Portland has their guards come over screens while dropping their big deep in the paint, prioritizing defending threes and shots at the rim, and it has worked for them. Opponents convert a league low 55% on shots at the rim against Portland, and also take 18% of their attempts from long mid-range (2nd most) and convert 43% (3rd highest). Continuously settling for mid-range jumpers is just playing into their hands. So the Pelicans will need to find the right balance of attacking the rim and converting their open mid-range shots.

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