BourbonStreetShots.com http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion Sat, 25 Apr 2015 23:00:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 A Test for the Pelicans http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/25/a-test-for-the-pelicans/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/25/a-test-for-the-pelicans/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 23:00:06 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49356 You’ll see what the New Orleans Pelicans team has today. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the New Orleans had a 38% chance of being swept by the Golden State Warriors if they lost on Thursday night. Well the Pelicans lost, so now we’ll see what happens. Not only did they lost, but they lost in one of the most heartbreaking ways one can lose. Many will wonder if Thursday was the knockout punch, if the Pels will have anything left for tonight.

In many ways, this may be the biggest test of the season for the team. When there is nothing left to play for but pride against the best team in the league, and that team has all the motivation they can to play at full strength and beat you and complete the sweep, what will the Pelicans do?

 

No team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit. Eight seeds rarely beat one seeds to begin with. Usually it requires the opposing head coach knowing the star player better than anyone else (Don Nelson and Dirk Nowitzki), an injury to a star player (Derek Rose pt. 1) or Dikembe Mutombo. And once again, not when down 0-3.

This game is for pride more than anything else. You can say whatever you want about New Orleans having a shot to be the first. Sure, maybe. If the Pelicans win the next two, we can have that conversation. That’s not what the Pelicans will be thinking about heading into Game 4. This will all be about pride. The people who play hard today, like there is nothing left to worry about tomorrow, are not playing for anything but pride. Those are the guys you want next year, the guys who play hard because losing is not an option, not something that is allowed. I remember watching the nightmare 2007 season end for the Miami Heat in a sweep.I remember Dwyane Wade trying to bank in a three in Game 1 for the win as if he was Tim Hardaway (and Pat Riley saying he called it that way). But I also remember in Game 4 James Posey grabbing 18 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls completed the sweep. Because Posey didn’t care if he had already won a title last year, he wanted one more (and got one more with the Boston Celtics in 2008.)

If the Pelicans come out and play hard, they can make a statement to the Warriors and the rest of the NBA. That they are ready to play, that they will be back next year. The Pelicans can respond with their version of Jake LaMotta’s “you never got me down.”

So today let’s see who wants to play ball.

 

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Pelicans-Warriors Game 4 Preview: Johnny Chan http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/25/pelicans-warriors-game-4-preview-johnny-chan/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/25/pelicans-warriors-game-4-preview-johnny-chan/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:49:41 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49376 “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched”

-Someone, somewhere, probably talking about a Pelicans game

I got lost in the moment on Thursday night. I was bedazzled. The Pelicans were up 20 points against the best team in the NBA. The defense looked great. The offense looked great. The New Orleans basketball scene was resurrecting before our eyes. But then Steph Curry happened. The best team in the NBA happened. Inexperienced players happened. The Pelicans started playing what equated to “prevent” offense. We died a slow death without anesthetic, and it was undeniably painful.

I won’t pretend I wasn’t extremely disappointed by Game 3—it was crushing—but the lessons that the Pelicans players/staff learned in that game will probably be of immense value. Not that this kind of collapse hasn’t happened to us before, because it has—but this was going to be a huge playoff victory, a historical imprint that we were going to look back on years from now. While the Pelicans were swishing wine around in their mouths, the Warriors snuck in and stole the bottle.

If it wasn’t clear after Game 2, the series is already over; frankly, the Pelicans never really had a chance of beating them in the series—it was just a matter of how many games it would take the Warriors. But there is valor in the fight, and the Pelicans still have time for a victory.

In Rounders (clip below), Mike McDermott reminisces about a time he sat with one of the greatest poker players in the world, Johnny Chan, someone he would seemingly have no business playing cards with.. and he beats him.

**Warning: explicit language/cool moment with John Turturro**

“I sat with the best in the world.. and I won.”

 

How to Win

1. More transition, please. The Warriors defense is infinitely harder to crack when they can get set. The Pelicans enjoyed success attacking the Warriors off of misses/turnovers at the beginning of Game 3, and the transition buckets injected the crowd with amazing energy.

Conversely, account for Golden State in transition immediately. Get back in position. Locate the shooters. Stop the ball.

2. Grab a freaking defensive rebound. The Warriors were the 2nd most efficient offense in the NBA, but it wasn’t because they were known for their offensive rebounds (they ranked 21st in OReb Rate). They just force you to extend your defense, move the ball extremely well, and make an absurd amount of shots. 22 offensive rebounds is inexcusable and a large reason why the Pelicans dropped game 3.

3.  Keep it close vs. the Golden State starters. They have the best starting unit in the NBA and our starters are unlikely to outscore them.  If Jrue Holiday can play off the bench, you can trust the bench to beat their bench. Jrue, Cole, and Ryno were ~+15 in Game 3. The bench can win in the gaps, but it’s up to the Pelicans starters to play theirs as close as they can to a draw.

This is a big game–not because we can win the series, not because we have to validate local expectations, and not because we have to prove anything to the national media.  This is a big game because this is an opportunity to sit with the best in the world and beat them. The Pelicans don’t need to win the pot.. they just need to win a hand.

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The Dawn is Coming http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/24/the-dawn-is-coming/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/24/the-dawn-is-coming/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:30:57 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49361 On March 31st, I booked a flight back to New Orleans landing at 7:20 PM on April 23rd to surprise my mother for her birthday on the 24th (today). At the time of my purchase, the Pelicans were 2 1/2 games back of the 42-32 Thunder at 39-34, so having the opportunity to also attend New Orleans’ first NBA playoff game in four years was hardly a secondary motivator for the trip.

Two weeks later, after the signature win of Anthony Davis’ short career thus far at home over the Spurs, the New Orleans Pelicans were improbably playoff-bound. Immediately after that incredible victory, I began searching all over the internet for the first round playoff schedule, in disbelief that I may actually be able get to a playoff game. Eventually, I figured out that the Pelicans’ home games would be on Thursday and Saturday night; my heart sank. If both games were to start at their normal 7 PM time, I would be lucky to catch the second half of Game 3 and was leaving New Orleans before the start of Game 4. Then, I saw the game time: Thursday, April 23rd at 8:30 PM. It was meant to be. Not only could I execute this surprise, but I could do so as a crazy, screaming fan at the Pelicans’ first home playoff game of the Anthony Davis era. Win or lose, it was perfect (or so I thought).

And for three quarters, it was. The surprise worked to perfection (see for yourself). The first three quarters could not have possibly gone better if you were a fan of the Pelicans (like about 99% of the fans in the Smoothie King Center were last night). Few if any of us expected to win this series, but heading into the fourth quarter of play, it just felt like this win was meant to happen. Every player on that New Orleans roster was 12 minutes away from their first playoff win as a member of the Pelicans.

Then the unthinkable happened.

I’ll spare you all the breakdown of the game itself because by now there are plenty of those circulating (including a strong one by our own Chris Romaguera), but in just a few minutes, suffice it to say that everything the Pelicans had worked so hard for 36 minutes to build came tumbling down. The offense stalled, Pelicans players stood and watched the Warriors jack up threes instead of finding a guy to box out, and before anyone could blink, the game was in overtime and rapidly drifting out of reach.

I don’t think that I have ever before felt the way I did leaving the SKC last night. The ride home was in complete silence. There was nothing to say. What could you say? The arena was absolutely ELECTRIC for the entire first three quarters. The jumbotron showed all of the Saints players (and head coach) in attendance before the start of the 4th quarter, and everyone was absolutely loving it. Earlier in the evening, the #1 ranked LSU Tigers baseball team knocked off the #2 Texas A&M Aggies by a score of 4-3. New Orleans was united, and it was time for the Pelicans to deliver the dagger and finish off a special night of sports for the city.

Of course, that didn’t happen. But we’re New Orleanians; we have felt heartbreak from our sports teams before. While it was simply impossible last night – I couldn’t even fall asleep until about 3 AM – I woke up this morning with a far greater ability to view the big picture. Here is what I see.

Remember Game 6 the 2013 NBA Finals that the Spurs led three games to two? Remember the Kawhi Leonard missed free throw before the infamous Ray Allen 3-pointer? The Spurs couldn’t bounce back from that, and LeBron’s Miami Heat won an incredible series in 7 games. From the moment San Antonio lost that 2013 NBA Finals series, that team was on a mission to avenge that defeat. They each felt the hurt that comes with being so close to victory, then having it brutally snatched away. And guess what? One year later, they’re The Champs. If you don’t think their 2013 loss played a major role in their 2014 success, you’re out of your mind.

That Leonard-Allen sequence is eerily similar to Anthony Davis’ missed free throw followed by the Stephen Curry 3-pointer. You can tell me the magnitude was different given the stakes, but I’d be inclined to disagree with you. For THIS Pelicans team, the game last night may as well have been Game 6 of the NBA Finals. For every single Pelicans player, last night was their first home playoff game in New Orleans; for guys like Gordon, Evans, and Davis, it was the first home NBA playoff game of their careers. You could see how badly they all wanted the win, regardless of whether or not winning the series was realistic (though you can bet each of those New Orleans players believed it was). If you think watching that collapse was difficult, try being directly involved in it. This is a loss that will stick with this team all through next season, and will likely remain in the back of their minds for far longer than that.

Given how the first three quarters of last night played out, it’s easy to forget the caliber of opponent the Pelicans are currently facing. By average margin of victory, the Golden State Warriors were the 8th best regular season team OF ALL TIME. They finished the regular season with a home record of 39-2! Here is what the 45-win, 8th seeded Pelicans have been able to do against that 67-win juggernaut over the first three games of this series:

Game 1: Trailed by just 4 points in the final minute (on the road)
Game 2: Tied at the end of 3 quarters, trailed by 2 with 4 minutes remaining (on the road)
Game 3: Up by 20 POINTS after 3 quarters

For three consecutive games, the Pelicans have fought to the finish with a team that has become accustomed to blowing out opponents and resting their starters in the 4th quarter. That isn’t just admirable; it’s damn impressive. Despite being clearly out-matched by a team far ahead of the Pels in both talent and the learning curve/growth trajectory/continuity level (the difference in minutes played together for the cores of both teams is simply massive), New Orleans has given Golden State absolutely everything it can handle. Doing so is a testament to both the team’s growth as well as their level of preparedness and quality of game plan going into the series (a result of good coaching). The Pelicans are one of the youngest teams in the league, and they have shown as much repeatedly down the stretch of the past two games (and a few of the in-game coaching decisions during these stretches deserve to be questioned as well). But just like the Spurs did, our young Pelicans will learn from everything they have experienced in this postseason, and they will unquestionably be better for it.

It is okay to hurt from this loss. I certainly still am. But Harvey Dent said it best – the night is darkest just before the dawn.

I promise you. The dawn is coming.

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Shellshocked http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/24/shellshocked/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/24/shellshocked/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:08:54 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49359 It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.  When you have a David vs. Goliath story, David is supposed to hit that big bastard in the face with a stone, everyone cheers, much drinking and getting laid ensues.  Goliath isn’t supposed to take the stone on the noggin, look vaguely  confused, and then knock over the kid, kick him in the stomach, and then punch him repeatedly in the nuts before putting him out of his misery.

That was not fun.  That collapse was probably one of the worst sports experiences of my life.  The Denver “Game that will not be named” was terrible because you could feel it was the end of an aborted era that had once held such promise.  But that game was Denver dominating and executing beautifully.  There wasn’t any question where that game was going by halftime.  It was sickening and sad in its implications, but there was no roller coaster of emotion then.

By halftime of this game, I was feeling good.  Nervous.  Not safe.  Good.  By the start of the fourth, I was celebrating a damn good win by an up-and-coming team.  I still felt the Pels weren’t winning the series.  I knew they weren’t likely to do this again.  But they had the game in hand.  It was one of those sports moments you just enjoy the hell out of.

And then, bit by bit, a disaster unfolded, and it wasn’t even clean.  If the warriors had just started raining threes and couldn’t miss, I would have been pissed off and disappointed, but able to shrug my shoulders and say “Welp, good on them.”  But they didn’t.  The Pelicans made them miss a ton of shots in that fourth quarter.  The Warriors were full on struggling to hit anything.

And the Pelicans couldn’t find a rebound.  My son isn’t in school today because he got a concussion from a basketball that missed everything and smashed him in the head while he was standing on the baseline talking to a pal.  His friend says it knocked him out for a few seconds.   He doesn’t remember it.

He was closer to getting a rebound than the Pelicans were in the fourth.  And that is the worst kind of slow, frustrating death.  I got to feel the brief moments of happy relief as the Pelicans forced another miss, only to see them miss the rebound and watch the Warriors score.  It was repeated nut punches.  My stomach grew tight, probably as tight as that Pelicans offense, with devolved into a bunch of guys waiting too long to get started and then trying to be heroes.

This game sucked.  It just sucked.  I lost sleep over it.  I know it’s game 3 in a series that we were going to lose anyways, but it still feels so damn crushing.

Sometimes, sports can be so unhealthy.

On to game 4?

(Side note: there won’t be a podcast before the next game.  Michael and I have some scheduling issues and can’t do it.  We’ll be back after game 4.)

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Warriors v. Pelicans Recap http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/24/warriors-v-pelicans-recap/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/24/warriors-v-pelicans-recap/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:10:38 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49352 Quotes and a Recap

“If you play poorly on offense, it’ll put you in difficult positions defensively.”

“They kicked our butts for three quarters, but fortunately we had time to come back.”

-Golden State Warriors Head Coach Kerr on the Warriors’ struggles early on.

Head Coach Monty Williams Tidbit: Said the plan was to foul when up three with 10 seconds left. After the first miss, too much space between Quincy Pondexter and Steph Curry to foul him. (Maybe savvy to find the rebound 99% of the time, but not when you’re matching Curry, different rules when covering him.)

“[We kept telling each other] It’s a long game, it’s a long game.”

-Steph Curry, on how the team stayed motivated in order to mount their comeback.

“Not sure, thought we made it very clear, things happen in the game, nothing we can do about it now. Just go back and try to figure it out. Try to figure out what we did wrong. That one play didn’t decide the game.”

-Anthony Davis on the last play of regulation

What happened?:

The New Orleans Pelicans played a great game for three quarters against the Golden State Warriors. That didn’t stop them from losing 123-119 in overtime. Unlike in Game 2 where things were just going the Pelicans way at first, this game they fought through an early onslaught of Curry and Klay Thompson 3s in order to take the lead at the end of the first. The Pelicans played a great second and third quarter and built a 20-point lead. But the Pelicans blew the game in the 4th quarter, giving up 39 points, being completely outexecuted, outhustled, and outplayed.

After the game, Kerr looked thrilled, while Curry and Thompson seemed euphoric. Williams had the look of a captain trying to right the ship, trying to remain calm. Pre-game he mentioned how he had to have different conversations with players this go around in the playoffs than his first time, since this team is so much younger. You get the impression Monty’s press conference would have gone quite differently if he had an older team. Davis was teary eyed; you could tell he was trying to compose himself a bit. New Orleans should be excited to have a superstar who continues to grow. But they should really be ecstatic about having a superstar who cares this much about winning. This was not a “made for TV” moment. This is a player who is going to feel the loss more than anyone else tonight. Who talked about what he “could do better” when he went for 29 points and 15 rebounds and three blocks. As someone who loves the game of basketball, I loved hearing that. For that is someone who I’d want to play with/for.

(As an aside, I did find myself wondering why no one else sat next to Davis. I totally understand not wanting to do it, and most people only having questions for Davis, but personally felt it was weird not having a teammate sitting next to him, in what had to be one of the toughest press conferences that he’s had to give. Want to see Anderson or Norris Cole up there next to him.)

No matter what negativity is going around, this is a young team that just took a huge lump, but played their hearts out. Jrue Holiday looked great, making all the right reads, all the right plays, not requiring the ball too much, trying to fit in. Playing fantastic defense and scoring 10 points and having four assists. Cole played great, scoring 16 points on 7/10 shooting and playing hounding defense. Ryan Anderson played with all the confidence he needs to have, backing down smaller players, nailing three pointers, playing with a fire that the team needs. He finished with 26 points on 10/14 shooting and five rebounds. Tyreke Evans played fantastic as well, best game he’s had this postseason, scoring 19 points and having eight assists. Omer “No Ice” Asik played a physical game, playing good defense in the paint.

 

Here’s how the team fared on my Keys to the Game:

Attack the paint- The Pelicans scored 46 points in the paint on 39 shots. They outscored the Warriors 46-42 in the paint. Offense was not the issue for the Pelicans until the 4th quarter, where New Orleans scored six points on 3/10 shooting. The team stopped executing. No way around it.

No Easy Points- The Pelicans did a great job of this the first three quarters. The Pelicans only gave up 20 points in the paint through three quarters, and had only 10 offensive rebounds for 11 second chance points. But in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans gave up 18 points in the paint, 10 offensive rebounds for 16 second chance points. Inconceivable!

Resting Davis (And Evans) – The Pelicans did a much better job of resting their guys. Davis got seven minutes off, all in regulation, while Evans played in 39 minutes, less than the 41 he logged just in regulation with a bone bruise on Tuesday. Holiday playing made Evans’ substitutions easier. Anderson catching fire allowed the Pelicans to rest Davis. The Pelicans were +1 while Davis was sitting, outscoring the Warriors in the first half with Davis out 9-7, but being outscored 10-11 in the second half. Either way, the Pelicans were afforded the ability to rest their star more, which was crucial after watching a gassed Davis struggle at the end of the fourth quarter on Tuesday.

Extra offense- New Orleans succeeded here, scoring 108 in regulation, and 119 overall. Holiday’s 10 points along with Anderson’s 26 were huge. Cole came through with 16 and Holiday had 10.

*Extra Key- Closing Out Quarters- I didn’t put this in the article, but Tweeted it before the game. The Pelicans have struggled with this against this Warriors team, watching them go on runs regularly. This happened twice tonight. In the second quarter, the Pelicans were leading 61-45 with 1:25 left, and somehow gave up a 7-2 run to allow the Warriors to close the lead to 11. In the fourth quarter, Ryan Anderson made a fadeaway with 6:01 left in the game (or so we thought) giving the Pels a 101-84 lead. After that shot, the only field goal the New Orleans made in regulation was a putback Davis dunk off an Evans miss with 3:12 remaining. The Pelicans were outscored 24-7 in the final six minutes of the game.

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Moleskin Moments: Warriors v. Pelicans Game 3 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/moleskin-moments-warriors-v-pelicans-game-3/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/moleskin-moments-warriors-v-pelicans-game-3/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 04:51:19 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49350 Moleskin Moments

Pre-Game

@PelicansNBA were 34-10 when scoring 100+ points during the reg. season. (Haven’t scored 100 yet in the postseason.)

@PelicansNBA were 1-10 on the season when their opponent makes 10+ 3s.

In G2, @PelicansNBA were outscored 11-4 when @AntDavis23 was sitting (2:56). Got to be able to afford giving him a bigger break today.

“When you’re down two games, you feel like you need to win. If that doesn’t happen, it’s not a tragedy, but it’s getting close.” Monty

In G2, @TyrekeEvans layup w/ 4:43 left in the game was the last field goal for the @PelicansNBA. @warriors closed on a 9-1 run.

Closing quarters key. @PelicansNBA closed 1Q well in Game 2. But gave up the lead with a 17-5 run by the @warriors in the second quarter. Similar to Apr.7 when the Warriors went on a run at the end of both the first and second quarters.

“The last month and a half of our season allowed us to get used to the stresses and pressures of playing in these situations.” Monty

@QuincyPondexter shot 46.4% from beyond the arc after the All-Star Break. Shot 32.9% before the break. Biggest jump in the NBA.

1Q

Loved the space provided to Davis early on by isolating him on the baseline.

Warriors came out like a team with brooms in hand.

2Q

That cut by @Jrue_Holiday11 on the @pg30_Cole 3 is the kinda heady play the @PelicansNBA been missing.  #2quarterCole 31-25

2nd quarter Cole!

7:30 The bounce play with @ryananderson33 can really kill this @warriors defense if RyNo starts hitting his shot. Switching nightmare.  42-30

5:25 @ryananderson33 has 11 points in this game. 7 in the prior 2.

 

Halftime

@PelicansNBA holding the @warriors to 18 points in the paint on 16 shots is huge. #keytothegame

Trombone Shorty and Irma Thomas as musical acts are good signs. Game 3 of the first round has better acts than the Super Bowl.  #nola

Interesting to see how Asik is handled here. Was huge in game 2 and regular season win. Not so much otherwise.

3Q

Nice to see an active Pondexter. Everyone needs to be an active agent to beat this defense consistently.

67-56 AD Second offensive foul. That’s got to be a fine on Barnes. SKC letting them know it too.

8:52 That last offensive sequence is why people get frustrated with Asik. Easy roll would have been a dunk. Can’t blame them either.

7:15 Every time Bogut is on @AntDavis23 he should attack.

 

6: 36 Davis winning that loose ball is why players will always play hard for him. Follow the lead of your captain.

5:58 Heady play by Gordon to attack Curry there. This team is much more active and engaged today. #experience 73-58

5:21 Giving Omer some love. Good boards and anchoring the defense.

5:21 Also Evans in space. Repeat!

79-64Was about to yell about that Ryno shot and no one cutting to him, but it went in. Do want to see @AntDavis23 attack Speights though.

1:38 Speights starting to get the Tiago Splitter treatment a la 2013 NBA Finals (whose turn is it to block him or burn him?)

@warriors 1/4 from the paint for two points in the third quarter. #keystothegame #breakingthebroominhalf

4Q

93-73 @ryananderson33 New postseason career high for points w/ 17 (prev. 14). @PelicansNBA 19-7 during the regular season when he scores 15+

7:25 Jrue out at exactly 15 minutes played. Could be due to the score, could be his minute restriction.

6:25 “Time for AD” I says, and AD stands up.

RyNo 23 points 101-83? @PelicansNBA will be investigated for tampering if @ryananderson33 keeps shooting like this. He may actually be LaMarcus Aldridge.

4:40 – Can’t get careless here. Need to stay disciplined on defense, keep moving the ball on offense.

3:33 103-95- Green just dunked a Curry miss in. “Why must we do this @PelicansNBA?”

3:12 Great putback by @AntDavis23 but too many Isos right now.

:45 Q-Pon, Holiday, Dante, Davis, Evans, our ending 5.

 

:21 Davis sticking to Green on those fake hand offs and was extremely crucial and smart. Forced tough shots.

:17 Holiday with clutch free throws.

What Just happened? (you know what happened.)

Have to wonder about not fouling there.

Also never inbounding the ball without a timeout, so not having one to be able to advance up the court.

How many offensive rebounds did they grab in the last five minutes?

Of course that’s a lot of hindsight.

OT

More offensive rebounds for GSW (first possession.)

Need to attack the paint more.  Like Evans did there drawing the foul.  (first point of the OT).

117-111 Need a score and a stop right here. Can’t keep bleeding.

Curious why Asik is in now .Seems a little late.

:36 Someone’s scrimmage is over. (Green foul out.)

:24 Hate that the @PelicansNBA don’t go to @AntDavis23 after Green fouled out. Want your best player to decide your fate.

:14 Would love those 10 seconds back.

:9 Curious foul there, but the @PelicansNBA will take it.

:00 This was such a happier write-up 30 minutes ago.

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Game On: Warriors v. Pelicans Game 3 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/game-on-warriors-v-pelicans-game-3/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/game-on-warriors-v-pelicans-game-3/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 19:00:49 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49348 “It’s not a series until someone wins on the road,” is an old adage that Quincy Pondexter was quoted as saying after the New Orleans Pelicans lost Game 2. The Pelicans know they need to win today if they want to win the series. The stats are daunting, if the Golden State Warriors win tonight, they’ essentially clinch the series, as no team has ever crawled out of the 3-0 hole. According to ESPN Stats and Info the Warriors would have a 97% chance of winning the series (I’m guessing that there is a margin of error of 3%.)

Coach Monty Williams says he doesn’t like to take moral victories. But like a prize fight, the match isn’t won in the first two rounds. The Pelicans have lost those two rounds, but they have a better understanding of what they have to do in order to win in this series.

The Pelicans need to come out and play their best game against Golden State today. The Warriors know what is at stake, if they beat the Pels here, they all but guarantee a series win. If the Pels win, there is a chance for momentum and a long series to ensue. After the April 7th Pelicans’ victory over the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr said “In the second half, we weren’t ready for their desperation,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The first five minutes of the third quarter is when we lost the game.” The Pelicans need to play with that desperation for the next 48 minutes.

Here are the Keys to the Game:

Attack the Paint- The Pelicanss didn’t score much in the paint in their sole victory against the Golden State Warriors. But New Orleans won a lot of basketball games doing just that. For the Pels to win, they need to see Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis own the paint, and create open looks for Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Q-Pon. Foul trouble on Bogut helped New Orleans in their sole win, and getting to the line allows the Pelicans to set up their defense. If the Pels get into their paint offense early and often, it’ll be a good sign for things to come.

Easy bucket brigade- Monty said before the April 7th game against the Warriors “Rebounding is always big against Golden State. [In Oakland] they got extra possessions against us along with their transition stuff.” The Pelicans defense has done a decent job against the Warriors. The problem has come via easy points that have allowed the Warriors to stay in the game (or blow the game open) that have hidden their half-court deficiencies. In Game 2, 13 of the Warriors 17 first quarter points came on the fastbreak, keeping them afloat while they got into a rhythm. In Game 2, the Warriors had 14 offensive rebounds. Omer “No Ice” Asik needs to set the tone on the boards, and the Pelicans as a team have to minimize the Warriors’ second chance opportunities. The Warriors are a great offensive team, but in the open court and having second chance opportunities, they are lethal.

What happens when the leaders rest- The Pelicans were outscored by seven points in Anthony Davis’ three minutes of rest during Game 2. During the regular season, the Warriors had similar issues when Curry sat. The Pelicans need to be able to afford Davis more rest, so he has more in the tank in the fourth quarter.  The Pelicans also have to outplay the Warriors even more when Curry is out (and attack the paint when Bogut hits the bench.) Getting a bigger break for Evans would be nice as well.

Where do the extra points come from- To beat Golden State, you pretty much have to score 100+ points. The Pelicans need to see more people catch on. Norris Cole has played well in both games, and Gordon looked good in Game 2, but Davis needs to get more help than that. Whether it’s a rebirth for Anderson, Evans healing, Jrue Holiday returning, Q-Pon finding his stroke (he scored 20 in the Pelicans April 7th win), the Pelicans need to put more points up on the board, and create more offense.

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Easy Adjustments the Pelicans Can Make To Win Game 3 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/easy-adjustments-the-pelicans-can-make-to-win-game-3/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/easy-adjustments-the-pelicans-can-make-to-win-game-3/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:59:44 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49340 With their first round series shifting homeward the New Orleans Pelicans find themselves in a must-win situation. Yes, no one expected them to win this matchup but getting swept would put a slight dent on an otherwise very good season. And getting knocked out of the playoffs while at home is something no fan wants to see.

The good thing is the Pelicans have been exceptionally competitive in games 1 and 2, mounting a strong comeback in the opener and only falling late in the 4th quarter of the sequel. There has been a lot of good basketball played by this young team and it may only take a few tweaks to the gameplan to send this series back to the bay area. So let’s jump into what the Pelicans can do.

Run a Smart Franchise

Anthony Davis is the franchise player. He’s been big for the Pelicans in the first two games. If the Pelicans want to have any chance of extending their playoff run it’s going to take Anthony Davis being on the court a lot. It’s why he played 45 minutes in game 2.

But the flipside of that is he looked gassed at the end of the game. Warriors coach Steve Kerr is throwing everything he has at Davis in order to tire him out. In addition to his primary defender in Draymond Green the Warriors at sending Andrew Bogut at him as well as switching guys like Klay Thompson to give Davis different looks. On top of the physicality he’s facing—and Davis prefers to avoid banging bodies on the block—it’s mentally taxing trying to figure out what to do.

However there seems no sign that his minutes will decrease.

“I talked about managing minutes, but the last time I checked this is the playoffs,” Williams said. “We’ve got the rest of the summer to rest; we’re trying to win games. He’s our best player and if I need to play him 48 minutes I’ll play him 48 minutes.”

It’s a coach’s quandary. You need Davis on the court to have a chance at winning but he’s being run into the ground and playing ineffectually.

The Pelicans need to use Davis as a decoy more early on. Give him a touch early on in the possession, let the defense react to that, then get the ball out of his hands. If Davis is used as a decoy early on, he’ll have much more energy late in games to be impactful.

It’s weird to type this given I’ve been shouting all season long that Davis needs to be the focal point of the Pelicans’ offense; that he needs more touches. Late in games, yes, that what the Pelicans should do. But save it till then. Davis had a USG% of 27.8% in the regular season and that’s risen to 32.1% in the playoffs. If he’s exhausted and commanding that much of the Pelicans offense they will not be able to beat Golden State. Save him early, beat them late.

Control the Pace and Reset the Offense

Golden State plays with the fastest pace in the league; the Pelicans with the 27th slowest. New Orleans won’t win by playing at the Warriors’ pace. They need to slow it down, play measured offense, and work the clock to create the best look possible. This ties in with keeping Davis fresh as well, and keeps Golden State from scoring points in quick bunches. When transition opportunities present themselves go for it. But the Pelicans can’t take bad shots early in the shot clock.

After grabbing an offensive rebound the Pelicans like to immediately go back up with another shot. Normally these are pretty high percentage plays however the Pelicans have not been converting at the league average this series. The Warriors were one of the top teams in the league at blocking shots. With guys like Green and Bogut patrolling down low getting a put back shot becomes much, much harder. The Pelicans need to kick the ball back out and reset their offense after grabbing a board. It’s a brand new 24 seconds. Use it. Evans and Asik, I’m looking at you both.

Asik and Destroy. Early. Sort Of.

No, he doesn’t need to be the focal point of the offense. Yes, you can reduce his minutes some this game. But Asik is still important to the Pelicans’ playoff chances. The problem is the Warriors are leaving him alone entirely and forcing the Pelicans to play 4 on 5 on the offensive end.

The Pelicans cannot let Golden State do that this game. Get Asik a few early baskets to keep the defense honest. It helps spacing for the Pelicans and you can go away from him after that. Now it’s easier said than done getting Asik good looks with how quickly the Warriors rotate on defense, but it’s possible.

Use Asik to set on ball screens. It’s much harder to ignore him when he’s involved in the play. Let him roll to the basket. With the defensive focus they’ve put on Davis, Asik should have some room to work. Once the Warriors adjust to take that away it’ll free up the rest of the team; allow Davis to rest a bit, avoid some of the physicality and act as an outlet with his jumper.

It’s not going to be easy, but the Pelicans have played competatively in this series. All it takes is a little bit more to grab a win or two at home. Slow the pace down to save Davis early on and then, in the 4th quarter, when the Pelicans need Davis the most you let him unless all hell.

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Nostalgia Before the Night: New Orleans Last Home Win http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/nostalgia-before-the-night-new-orleans-last-home-win/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/23/nostalgia-before-the-night-new-orleans-last-home-win/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49344 It didn’t matter that it was merely a first round game. That the team had squandered their home court advantage in Game 3. That they wouldn’t win another game the rest of the series. That there was no owner, and other cities and prospective buyers were licking their lips. On this night, it didn’t matter. For New Orleans had just experienced something amazing. New Orleans not only won, but they saw their best player, dominate the defending champions. The series was tied, anything could happen, for the impossible just seemed to have had happened that night. After the game, my friend and I left the stadium and joined the masses walking down Earhart Blvd., under the Pontchartrain Expressway, chanting “Beat L.A.,” and “I’m in!” and God-knows what other unrated slogans, drinking and spilling beer, high-fiving and hugging the people next to us, a brass band away from being the most tone deaf second line the city has ever seen.

The night was April 24th, 2011. It was Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers. The New Orleans Hornets (remember them?) had stunned the NBA by beating the Lakers in Game 1, a game where Chris Paul went off for 33 points, 14 assists, and seven rebounds. But the Lakers had won back-to-back after that, including Game 3 in New Orleans, and it seemed like the magic had worn off. But that is the thing about having a dynamic player like Paul, someone who can be the best player on the court on any given night, even if the opposing team has a five-time NBA champion. No matter.

I remember the next day going to the park and playing on a court with Paul’s “3” on it. I felt like it was his city.  When you have the best player on the court you could win any game. And Paul gave the Hornets that opportunity every night, opponent be damned.

Paul was letting the game come to him that night. Trevor Ariza was playing great. Emeka Okafor looked like the player the Pelicans’ sister franchise in Charlotte had thought they had drafted all those years before. After nearly 23 minutes, Paul hadn’t scored yet, but he was keeping everyone involved, poking and prodding through the defense. Right before the half, Paul was on the receiving end of a hard hit (I believe it was Derek Fisher, but memory fades and game logs don’t record hits). Paul got up with outstretched hands, pleading to the ref, before running down the court and grabbing the rebound. He’d score his first bucket on that possession.

The third quarter went something like this. High pick and roll, mid-range jumper, Paul now has nine points. High pick and roll, mid-range jumper, now he has 11 points. Paul went ballistic throughout the rest of the game. It was something I can honestly say I’ve only seen a few times, where a player was able to dominate a game in every facet. I saw Michael Jordan as a kid, and my dad and me were watching him warm up before tipoff, when my dad pointed out how many baseline jumpers he was hitting. “He’s gonna go for fifty on us,” he told me. My dad knew it. And he was right. Jordan put up 50 on us. I once saw Dwyane Wade get so mad in a game that he went on a tear at the end of the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns, to the point where he blocked a (pre-surgery) Amare Stoudemire, collected the ball, and heaved a 75-foot shot that hit nothing but the bottom of the net as time expired. Wade willed that shot in. While in the air, it almost felt like he dared it to miss. Everyone went nuts. Everyone knew the Miami Heat were going to win that night, and the only thing better than that, was watching how Wade was going to do it. It’s like watching an action movie produced by Disney, you know how it’s going to end, but you love the ride anyway. That’s how good Paul was that night.

Paul finished with a triple-double, scoring 27 points with 13 rebounds and 15 assists. Every play after that hit, everyone in the arena was ready to go off. Nearly 20,000 Jack in the Boxes waiting to pop out. Paul didn’t just control everyone in the audience; he controlled everyone on the court. No one could stop him. “I’m in” was the slogan for New Orleans that year, a whole city “in” for the New Orleans basketball franchise. And the city was, and everyone in the arena was, “in” that night.

In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t mean much to the NBA. Phil Jackson said merely “Well it’s a series now.” New Orleans lost the next two games, and Paul was traded in the offseason. But it gave the city one last great playoff win with Paul at the helm. For a city that loves its stories, New Orleans had one more great story with Paul. For one day, New Orleans had the best player in the game.

Which is why I am so excited for tonight. For there is a chance that I can experience that again. The Pelicans can win, and like that 2011 team, never win another game in the series. And like in that series, it may not matter. With Anthony Davis, New Orleans has a player that on any given night can be the best player in the arena. And there is a chance; he can lift the city of New Orleans up for one night, no matter what has happened before or will happen after. Davis can have, the entire Pelicans team can have, a game that will be a story that lasts longer than their season. And being able to be in the arena, just in case that happens, is a feeling I can’t wait to experience.

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In the NO Podcast Ep 216: Warriors in the Blender http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/22/in-the-no-podcast-ep-216-warriors-in-the-blender/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/22/in-the-no-podcast-ep-216-warriors-in-the-blender/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 03:54:51 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49338 We talk over game 2, addressing some bad play by Anderson and Ajinca, Jrue’s injury, and Anthony Davis playing 45 minutes and if that was a mistake. All that, plus Tyreke Evans playing hurt, Gordon being an amazing shooter, Cole being weird, and our predictions for game 3.

Enjoy the Podcast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Podcast: Making a Pelican Playoff donut + a chat with Pelicans communication manager Lindsey Mitchell http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/22/podcast-making-a-pelican-playoff-donut-a-chat-with-pelicans-communication-manager-lindsey-mitchell/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/22/podcast-making-a-pelican-playoff-donut-a-chat-with-pelicans-communication-manager-lindsey-mitchell/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:00:38 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49313 Last year I collaborated with District Donuts (the very, very good restaurant on Magazine Street) on making a special edition donut to celebrate the first final home game of the year for the New Orleans Pelicans. We threw a party at the restaurant, people came, Dell Demps came, and we talked basketball while eating a crazy basketball-team inspired donut.

This year, we’re doing it all over again. Tonight, Wednesday April 22nd at 6:00p at 2209 Magazine Street. The donut will available all day but at 6:00p you can get it for a special happy hour price. Bonus is you’ll be surrounded by Crescent City Basketball fans as we take over the back patio of the restaurant. What’s in the donut? Listen to the latest episode of this week’s Pelicans podcast.

Also on today’s episode is Pelicans corporate communication manager Lindsey Mitchell. We discuss how the behind-the scenes staff is impacted by the sudden playoff appearance and just how much she likes Monty Williams. The episode is available to stream right here and it’s also on Stitcher and iTunes.

 

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Help Anthony Davis Win the NBA Cares Community Assist Award http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/22/help-anthony-davis-win-the-nba-cares-community-assist-award/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/22/help-anthony-davis-win-the-nba-cares-community-assist-award/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49332 It’s easy to overlook the most important words Anthony Davis says.

You’ve heard him talk about how he’s adjusting to the playoff schedule. That he believes the Pelicans can beat the Golden State Warriors. But those are quotes which only affect the game.

But in his nomination for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award, Anthony Davis has far more impactful words. “Giving back means a lot to me,” Davis said. “I try to do the best I can to give back to the city and show my appreciation and to win the NBA Community Assist Award monthly award has been a great honor and a blessing. I just try to use everything that I have to give back to the City of New Orleans. I just love hosting the events for the kids and seeing the smiles on their faces and see them happy.”

I’ve talked a lot about the word “community” this season. About the coming together of Pelicans fans to enjoy a shared passion. In the midst of this playoff run, and seeing the city clad in Pelicans’s Blue and Red, it’s not hard to see that sports mean something more in New Orleans. It’s been 9 years since Katrina. 5 years since the BP oil spill. Tragic shootings happen nearly every other night. Despite the city’s massive resilience it’s nice to get a pick-me-up every now and then. Anthony Davis is doing just that for the youth of New Orleans

“It’s huge the stuff he does in the community,” Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said. “This city is in great need of assistance…He’s part of the solution here. It’s huge and something he really wants.”

This season Davis felt he needed to ramp up his charity work even more so, creating AD’s Flight Academy. Davis’s initiatives are the reason you’ve read about him hosting Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army. Taking 75 local, underprivileged kids on a shopping spree at Toys “R” Us. Davis has taken 100 students from the Westbank YMCA bowling. Played laser tag with 150 students from the Jefferson Parish Parks and Recreation. Davis hosted an advanced screening of The Divergent Series: Insurgent for 150 students from Juma Covenant House and Boys Hope Girls Hope. And most recently he spent a night playing basketball and eating pizza with 130 kids at Back 2 Basics in New Orleans. Davis also has given back this season through the Player Ticket Program by spending $30,000 to send over 3,700 underprivileged local children to a Pelicans game. And that’s not even counting all the team events Davis has participated in. You can read the full rundown in the Pelicans official announcement.

That is a lot of lives touched by Anthony Davis in just this year alone.

Often a player’s impact and legacy is only felt on the court. Anthony Davis may only be in his third season but he is building something deeper in the Crescent City. And most importantly this is something that will last. Chris Paul has been gone for 4 seasons now and he still regularly travels down to New Orleans to work with the charities he established.

The NBA Cares Community Assist Award really matters to Anthony Davis so please help him win after finishing runner-up last season. 50% of the decision is based on fan voting. It ends on the 27th but all you need to do is use the hashtags #NBACommunityAssist and #AnthonyDavis on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Put both hashtags in and tweet it out. Retweet any votes you see for Davis. As Davis told us earlier in the season, “Let ‘em have it!”

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Moleskin Moments (And the Morning After): Game 2 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/21/moleskin-moments-and-the-morning-after-game-2/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/21/moleskin-moments-and-the-morning-after-game-2/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:18:17 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49329 Notes of the New Orleans Pelicans game 2 defeat against the Golden State Warriors, where we saw a lot of things get better, but not enough for the win.

  • Omer Asik started the game. Many at Tracey’s were wondering if Ryan Anderson should start. I even heard some “Alexis Ajinca starting” talk being brought up again. But for reasons both complex (for another day) and not so complex (dance with the girl you brought to the ball) Asik started. Also going against what Reggie Miller says tends to be a solid philosophy as well.
  • Asik had a tough first half. Besides the stitches, he was indecisive with the ball, never caught the ball cutting with space, and didn’t have a huge impact on the game defensively or offensively.  But in the second half, Asik did a fine job defensive, set strong picks, had a couple of nice dishes, and cleaned up on the boards and defense a bit. It wasn’t his finest game by any means, but Asik was able to make a difference. (It should be noted that even with the tough first half, the Pelicans ability to hold the Warriors to five shots in the paint in the first quarter has to be considered a coup, and my initial reaction to Asik’s defense had to be reconsidered.)
  • The Pelicans shot chart in the first quarter looked exactly how Coach Monty Williams must be hoping for. New Orleans took 13 shots in the paint, and while they only made five of those, the fact that they got in the paint that much boded well for the team. The Pelicans also were able to create open looks elsewhere, with Eric Gordon getting hot from 3-point range, making three in the quarter, all in the same vicinity. The Pelicans only took seven midrange shots in the first quarter, not taking what the Warriors were giving them, but creating the kind of shots the team needs to.
  • Anderson struggled mightily in the 9 minutes he played, going 1-5 (missing both three pointers) for four points two rebounds and two assists. He was a sieve on defense, not hedging out on Steph Curry on a late first half three that helped the Warriors enter the half with the lead. Ajinca didn’t accrue a single stat besides a personal foul in his four minutes, and the Pels were outscored by 8 while he was in the game. The only post player that played well off the bench was Dante Cunningham, who provided energy and movement on both sides of the ball. Look for him to play more power forward in this series if Anderson, Asik, and Ajinca all continue to play inconsistent. You know it’s a code red when you get a text from a friend inquiring about Luke Babbitt. The Pels are going to need to see more from the frontcourt, so that coach Monty Williams can afford to give Davis more of a break. Davis clearly ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.
  • Tyreke Evans- Evans filled the stat sheets a bit, but he seemed hampered by his injury and largely ineffective. Evans made four of his 13 shots, which included a hero ball three, and missed five free throws. When the Pels stall, he needs to be able to jumpstart the offense. It showed how important he is to this team, when New Orleans started to struggle in the second half, and Evans wasn’t able to give the team his usual boost.
  • Eric Gordon- Gordon played fantastic. He had 23 points making five of his 10 three pointers. Gordon made the Warriors pay when Curry was on him, or when the cross switches weren’t in tune. If Gordon plays like this in New Orleans, there is a good chance the Pels are going to come out with a win.
  • Anthony Davis- Davis is a monster. While he struggled late, and didn’t shoot particularly well (9-22), he did attack the basket well. Not settling for midrange jumpers but putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim. New Orleans may need even more from him to pull out a win, but Davis played a more complete game last night.
  • There were still too many sets where the ball stayed at the top and not enough movement was happening. The Pelicans’ off the ball cuts and screens, as well as spacing, has at times left a lot to be desired. While New Orleans’ late starting offense almost seemed purposefully done at times (the Pels took advantage of quite a bit of the switches today), one would like to see New Orleans get into their offense earlier and turn to the late-action triggers if that fails.
  • Davis gone, the Warriors come out to play- Davis’ only break in the game came at the start of the second quarter, where Davis would sit out for almost three minutes, the Pelicans leading 28-17. The Warriors scored on five of six possessions to start the quarter, and besides a couple of pull-up mid range jumpers by Norris Cole, the Pelicans didn’t score. Anderson took a 27 foot three pointer with 11 seconds left on the shot clock, he missed a bunny 8-footer, and Evans was blocked by Draymond Green on a haggard drive. The Pels called a timeout to put Davis back in for Ajinca with 9:04 left, with the lead having shrunk to 32-28.
  • Letting them stay in the game- The Pelicans played great out the gate, making a bunch of shots, but the half-court defense is what really stuck out. The Pels did a great job against the Warriors. The problem was, they gave up too many fastbreak points. Curry and Klay Thompson both found themselves open for threes throughout the game. It bought the Warriors time till they got into a rhythm in the half-court. The Warriors scored 13 of their 17 first quarter points on fastbreaks. Considering how well New Orleans was doing in the half-court (holding the Warriors to five field goals in the paint during the first quarter) the Pelicans didn’t take advantage of their strong execution out of the gate. The fact that the Pelicans turned the Warriors’ six turnovers into a mere four points was another way the Pelicans let the Warriors off the hook. New Orleans went into the first quarter with an 11-point lead, but that easily could have been higher.
  • Points in the paint- It was a topic of discussion after the first game of the series, but the Pelicans did a much better job of keeping the Warriors out of the paint. After they made a living in there in game 1, scoring 50 points in the paint, the New Orleans held Golden State to 34 points in game 2.
  • In the third quarter I got a text from a Bay Area friend lamenting the Pelicans making it into the playoffs. Saying they’d rather face a Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder. It gave me much joy knowing that even holding the lead, the fan base is annoyed with this Pelicans team (also noteworthy, none of my Oklahoma friends have texted my back since Wednesday.)
  • Hero Ball- At one point in the fourth quarter, I caught myself saying, “We’re not going to out hero ball the Warriors.” Those around me agreed. New Orleans took 30 foot jumpers with 14 seconds on the shot clock, Evans drove to the lane like an out of control car in an 80s action movie, Davis seemed to have no immediate plan of what to do with the ball. It’s young mistakes, from players who are not used to playing against a team that game plans this much against them. Everything is under a microscope in the playoffs. The Pels will look at the tape of this game and realize they left a lot of points on the board. They scored 35 points in the second half (making nine of their 35 shots.) That won’t get it done against the highest scoring offense in the league.
  • Lineups- The Starting Lineup of Evans/Gordon/Pondexter/Davis/Asik played 16 minutes together last night (the most out of any lineup) and mustered a -3. While they didn’t shoot the ball well, the lineup garnered seven steals and two blocks, holding the Warriors offense in check.
  • But a lineup that may need to be given a longer look, is the Cole/Cunningham/Pondexter/Davis/Evans lineup. With those five on the floor for six minutes, the Pelicans put up a +6. Cunningham at the four with a couple of perimeter players than can attack the paint and score or dish may be a lineup that needs more time together, especially if Ajinca and Anderson keep struggling.
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A How-To Guide for Hosting a Playoff Game in New Orleans http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/21/a-how-to-guide-for-hosting-a-playoff-game-in-new-orleans/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/21/a-how-to-guide-for-hosting-a-playoff-game-in-new-orleans/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:00:01 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49263 Important events require careful, clever planning. Surprise parties, international trips, festivals, New Orleans comedy festivals, cross-country road trips, graduations, and most relevantly to you, fine reader, a postseason basketball game. Specifically a postseason basketball game in New Orleans, the city still proudly holding the big game championship belt. Final Fours, Super Bowls, All-Star Weekends, College Football Playoffs, Wrestlemania, and eventually, an NBA Finals game.

As the focus of this David (Pelicans) and Goliath (Warriors) series shifts from northern California to the Gulf Coast, let’s alley some playoff ideas to the team running the game behind the scenes. Hopefully the ideas get oop’d.

Seriously, a major tailgating event for Thursday
Tip-off for Game 3 is scheduled for what is usually about halftime for a regular game. While this will hopefully result in a full crowd for the first bucket (something New Orleans isn’t particularly used to as our late arriving reputation is becoming a sad universally known fact) it’s far too late for the average person. An NBA game, on a weekday, ending after 11:00p won’t faze the most passionate bunch (our Tracey’s watch party was full until the game was over on Monday). The issue here is that the most passionate bunch aren’t necessarily able to afford tickets to a postseason NBA game. Solution? Make it a night-long party. Get a heavy hitter music act in Champions Square. Let’s second line to the Smoothie King Center. We start at 6:00p. Free beer. This could become a New Orleans postseason tradition.

Please, a shirt on every seat
The Pelicans did give away those Smoothie King-sponsored red shirts (easily the best home opener shirt giveaway in recent memory) back in October, but we were robbed of the “shirts draped over the seats” visual. Sources tell me this was an issue behind the scenes – not sure if someone ordered shirts too late or if not enough folks were on hand to physically put the shirts over the seats. Regardless, I hope we get playoff shirts draped over the seats and I hope everyone who looks at my phone is okay with that being my background image for the next 12 months.

WarriosShirt2015Okay, what do the shirts say
 The Warriors went with a strong, but generic, “Strength in Numbers” slogan. It’s not the worst idea possible, but it’s not much higher than “Our city is good at watching basketball games in person.” The best part of this shirt is the loud banana yellow-ness of it. The visual of 20,000 Warriors fans decked out in loud sunshine is going to be striking. How can the Pelicans match up?

My vote is for Red Out. I know there’s a lot of fans who aren’t nuts about the team’s red jerseys. Those jerseys, however, are superior to the home whites in every way, most notable the font size. Whatever we can do to twist the arm of ownership to make Red the home color, sign me up.

Other candidates: It’s Geaux Time (yes, some think we are on the brink of being “Geaux’d out” but it’s relevant and hasn’t been used in the postseason) , Take Flight (sure, it’s the occasionally pushed team hashtag, but why not take the slogan and imply it’s sticking around for a while?).

For real, the music at the game
This is the most obvious thing that should boast the bigger payoff. When the house brass band was lined up a few years back playing us in and out of time outs, it was one of the most New Orleans things our home team had ever done. I know I am not alone in saying I’m over “day-oh” chants at key defensive moments in the game. Give me “Defense” chants when we don’t have the ball and local music as we bring the ball up court. Alternative idea: a permanent in-house DJ. If one of the above ideas doesn’t happen by tip-off 2015-2016, I’m calling the police.

Chris Trew is a comedian, New Orleans native, and Pelicans season ticket holder. His podcast is available right here (you should listen to it) and he performs weekly at the home for New Orleans comedy, The New Movement. Follow him on Twitter.

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Pelicans Battle Tremendously, but Fade Down the Stretch in 97-87 loss to Warriors http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/21/pelicans-battle-tremendously-but-fade-down-the-stretch-in-97-87-loss-to-warriors/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/21/pelicans-battle-tremendously-but-fade-down-the-stretch-in-97-87-loss-to-warriors/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:47:38 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49315 If you are not extremely proud of this Pelicans team after watching the game tonight, then stop reading now, because you must be on the wrong team’s website.

For 44 out of 48 minutes, this 45 win, 8th seed New Orleans team battled the 67 win, league-best Warriors to practically a draw (88-86). For the last four minutes, a lack of experience, depth, and stamina allowed Golden State to go on a 9-1 run, ultimately winning 97-87.

The Pelicans will head back to New Orleans down two games to none, just as most people expected against a team that finished the regular season 39-2 at home. What few people expected is that New Orleans stayed within 5 points of Golden State late in both contests. The Warriors, a top-10 regular season team of all-time based on scoring margin, were legitimately challenged by a young, scrappy Pelicans team in their own house for two consecutive games. That is a huge victory for this New Orleans franchise, and a major testament to the preparedness and game plan of head coach Monty Williams and his staff.

Less than an hour before tip-off, the Pelicans announced that Jrue Holiday would not play. Tyreke Evans both played and started, but it was clear early on that his left knee was hurting, as he didn’t have the same lift he usually does. Ryan Anderson played under 10 minutes, as he has continued to struggle mightily ever since returning from his injury about a month ago. Ajinca played under 5 minutes, as Coach Williams could never find the right match-up for him against a team that plays small as much as Golden State. After reading just this paragraph, no reasonable person would give the Pelicans any real chance against a juggernaut like the Warriors. Yet there they were, giving the league’s best defense and second best offense everything they could handle until the very end, when the short-handed Pelicans simply ran out of gas.

I’ll discuss what I liked and didn’t like about tonight’s game below, but the above needed to be said first. The New Orleans Pelicans players and coaching staff deserve so much credit for the way they competed tonight. It has been a real pleasure to watch this team play for their first two postseason games, and I cannot wait to see what they will be able to do with a fired up home crowd behind them in the Smoothie King Center.

Game Notes

  •  In the first quarter of Game 1, the Pelicans found themselves in a 15 point hole, which was one that they could not climb out of. Tonight, the exact opposite happened, as it was instead the Warriors who trailed by double digits (28-17) after a quarter of play. Golden State shooters were being chased all over the perimeter, and though some of those shots were reasonably open, they were hardly set and composed right before launching. The Warriors scored 13 of their 17 first quarter points via fast break opportunities, an area in which the Pelicans still struggle and Golden State is just so tough to stop.
  • Norris Cole single-handedly kept the Evans-Cole-Cunningham-Anderson-Ajinca unit that started the second quarter from getting totally destroyed. The Pelicans needed Cole to step up big without Jrue Holiday, and he certainly delivered in the second quarter. Unfortunately, he scored just two points on 1-7 shooting in the other three quarters combined and was a complete non-factor offensively in the second half. Still, while Cole has always been a plus defender, his offense has certainly exceeded the expectations of many when he was acquired by New Orleans.
  • Tyreke Evans, man. What a fighter. He truly represents what this Pelicans team wants to be remembered for this season. No matter what the injury, if his body is structurally sound and not susceptible to re-injury, he is going to be out there leading his troops. Evans clearly was hurting today, but that didn’t stop him from tallying 16 points on 13 shots, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 0 turnovers – all pretty much on one leg. As Coach Williams noted in his post-game press conference, his defense was also strong for the most part tonight. Really cannot say enough about the example he has set for all of New Orleans’ young guys, including Anthony Davis.
  • Speaking of AD – 45 minutes for the Pelicans’ franchise player tonight, and you can be sure he would have played all 48 if Monty asked him to do it. Davis was clearly gassed as the 4th quarter progressed, and against a team as fast-paced as the Warriors, who could blame him? He finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. The man is hungry for a victory. A special performance may be on the horizon for Game 3.
  • As poorly as Asik played in the first 6 quarters of this series, he was an essential piece of the Pelicans’ ability to keep the game close in the second half tonight. From the start of the second half until the 4 minute mark in the 4th, the Pelicans outscored the Warriors 34-33. Asik played just over 11 minutes of that 20-minute stretch, pulling down 8 rebounds (5 of which were on the offensive glass). Just because Golden State poses a pretty bad match-up for him doesn’t mean that there is no place for him at all in this series; his interior defense can still provide major help in the right circumstances.
  • We saw elite Eric Gordon and brutal Eric Gordon all in one night tonight, though the latter wasn’t necessarily his fault. This season has cemented what Gordon is now – an elite catch-and-shoot guy who moves well without the ball to find space beyond the arc to knock down shots. When he is forced to be a primary ball-handler, things unravel quickly. Tonight was a case study in that regard; Gordon made 5 of his 10 three-point attempts, but aside from that scored 8 points on 9 shots (zero free throw attempts) and dished out just two assists compared to four turnovers. He is an essential piece of this Pelicans squad as currently constructed, but as soon as he puts the ball on the floor, the results are usually poor. Make no mistake though, tonight was a strong game for Gordon overall.
  • The Pelicans turned the ball over just three times in the first half (they forced 9 Warriors turnovers), gave up only 5 second chance points, were +10 in points in the paint, and still trailed by 3 points at halftime. Sometimes, even when you do a bunch of things right, you still come up short. That’s what a team as good as Golden State can do to so many teams in this league. In the second half, the Pelicans got sloppy on offense, but tightened up the defense to hang in the game until things broke down late. Nothing to be ashamed of for New Orleans tonight. Tip your cap and get ready to play the league’s best squad twice in your house.

Game Three of this best-of-seven series is on Thursday night at 8:30 PM in the Smoothie King Center. No empty seats, y’all. Make Monty think the noise level in his own team’s arena is illegal. Get excited! PLAYOFF BASKETBALL RETURNS TO NEW ORLEANS IN LESS THAN 72 HOURS.

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Podcast: A diehard Warriors fan and Oakland comedian shares three reasons the Pelicans have no chance http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/20/podcast-a-diehard-warriors-fan-and-oakland-comedian-shares-three-reasons-the-pelicans-have-no-chance/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/20/podcast-a-diehard-warriors-fan-and-oakland-comedian-shares-three-reasons-the-pelicans-have-no-chance/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:02:03 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49310 On this special Monday edition of Trew 2 the Game Oakland native and fellow stand-up comedian Joey Devine joins Chris on the show. He gives us 3 reasons why the Pelicans have absolutely no chance of beating the Warriors. Chris responds with 3 very doable not-insane-at-all reasons why the Pelicans could possibly (maybe) beat the Warriors.

Listen to the podcast right here!

Trew 2 the Game is a New Orleans sports podcast that is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and It’s New Orleans. 

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Game On: New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors, Game 2 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/20/game-on-new-orleans-pelicans-at-golden-state-warriors-game-2/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/20/game-on-new-orleans-pelicans-at-golden-state-warriors-game-2/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 14:26:40 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49301 Two days after an inspiring comeback fell just a little short in the form of a 106-99 loss, the Pelicans return to Oracle Arena for Game 2 of their best-of-seven series against the Warriors. After a rough first quarter on Saturday, New Orleans shook their playoff jitters and played Golden State close to even in the second and third quarters, then beat them handily in the fourth. While the team is trending upward, their opponent is now 40-2 at home in the regular season and post season combined, so heading back home with the series tied at one game a piece would be a very impressive feat. Fortunately, the Pelicans seemed to learn a thing or two from their first game that should help them in their big game tonight.

First things first – it is no secret that Omer Asik struggled on Saturday. As big of a factor as Asik has been defensively for the Pelicans this season, he simply does not match up well against this Warriors team. In fact, James Grayson had a great post yesterday which reviewed some of his struggles in addition to some other key insights from Game 1. There is certainly a place for Asik in this series, but it may be in the Pelicans’ best interest to give the Davis-Anderson front court more time together in Game 2 (the combo which propelled their 4th quarter comeback). Despite Anderson’s recent struggles, his mere presence on the court gives Davis so much more space to operate offensively, and there isn’t really a player for Golden State who is big enough to give AD a ton of trouble on the defensive end.

Of course, this strategy is not without risk. Apart from trading defense for offense, Asik is also a strong rebounder, and if you’re going to reduce his minutes, you’ll have to make up that production somewhere else. New Orleans basically matched Golden State on the glass in Game 1 (and that includes a 9-rebound game from Quincy Pondexter), and they run the risk of falling behind by giving Asik a lesser role. To be clear, the Pelicans likely will not take him out of the starting lineup, if for no other reason than seeing how he reacted in Houston when he was replaced by Dwight Howard.

Tyreke Evans will be another big key as tip-off approaches. He is currently listed as a game-time decision, but Evans will likely no whether or not he can play as soon as he tests out his knee today. While Evans is certainly a major part of this Pelicans team and they are unequivocally worse off without him, Evans tends to struggle against teams with great rim protectors (such as the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut), so being without him for a game may not be quite as harmful as it would be against some of the other teams in the league. Regardless, if Evans cannot go, Norris Cole will likely be the biggest benefactor, as Holiday still appears to be on a minutes restriction hovering around 25 minutes. Cole is an upgrade from Evans on the defensive end, but can he create enough open looks for his teammates on the offensive end to keep this game close?

Quincy Pondexter and Eric Gordon combined to go 7-14 from 3-point range in Game 1, and that sharp shooting will have to continue for the Pelicans to hang with the Splash Brothers. Curry had a very pedestrian game from long range a couple days ago, and Thompson struggled when not shooting 3s (3-6 from long range, 6-17 overall), two trends which are unlikely to continue. On the defensive end, Pondexter fared pretty decently when matched up against Curry, so that could be a match-up that Coach Monty Williams goes to more frequently in Game 2. Of course, doing so is a lot easier when your point guard is 6’7″ and can defend multiple positions – an under-emphasized benefit of having Tyreke in the lineup – so his health may dictate how often the Pelicans can throw wing defenders at Curry.

How Ryan Anderson is used while he is on the court will be a major factor in tonight’s game. Anderson has struggled all season on the road, but it is clear how much the Warriors fear his ability to space the floor when he is playing.  If he can make up a decent amount of the rebounding void left vacant when Asik leaves the game and stick towards 3-point shooting over post-ups and his mid-range fall-away jumpers that haven’t really been close lately (unless it’s to avoid a shot clock violation), the Pelicans’ offense will be much more dangerous.

Feel free to add in some of your own keys to the game in the comments below! Also, don’t forget that all are encouraged to catch the game at Tracey’s for our second watch party of the postseason. Head to Tracey’s in the Garden District for every road Pelicans playoff game, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find other passionate Pelicans fans surrounding you.

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In the NO Podcast Ep 215: On to Game 2 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/in-the-no-podcast-ep-215-on-to-game-2/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/in-the-no-podcast-ep-215-on-to-game-2/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 02:54:52 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49304 Michael and I talk about what we saw in Game 1 – including what we would like to see exploited, what we would like to see less of, and who our game-time heroes were. We then make predictions for game 2!

Enjoy the Podcast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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YouTube Play-by-Play: The Pelicans Enter the Building http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/youtube-play-by-play-the-pelicans-enter-the-building/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/youtube-play-by-play-the-pelicans-enter-the-building/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 00:07:08 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49268

Imagine if you will, this above Pelican (video contains NSFW language, by the way) as a sort of mega-tron version of the New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise. The face is Anthony Davis, determined and focused. The eyes are Jrue Holiday (right), Tyreke Evans (left). The rump is Omer Asik, the chest is Eric Gordon. Keeping the neck strong and sturdy is Norris Cole, Quincy Pondexter, Ryan Anderson. Somewhere in the top is Monty Williams and Dell Demps. You get my drift.

Follow me here, but this zoo sidewalk (I hope this is a zoo and not some park in a neighborhood) is the entrance way from the locker room, past the Capital One Club, onto the court. This Pelican is loose and is focused on one thing – playing a basketball game better than the other team on the court. In the case of the above video, the other team on the court are the humans running terrified from this beast of a bird.

At the :13 mark, the nice lady in the alright jumper pulls out her camera to take a picture of this mighty creature. She is Steve Kerr. No choice but to stand on the sidelines and witness the Pelican as it saunters strongly on the court.

At the :20 mark the lady (Steve Kerr and the entire Warriors coaching staff, really) gets a feeling. Her maternal instincts to protect her young from incoming danger kick in. This is Steve Kerr covering the eyes of his starting five. This is Alvin Gentry making the bench look away as to not make eye contact with what’s happening.

It happens at :22 seconds in. The Pelican opens wide, causing the lady to grab her child’s arm, possibly dislocating it, and scamper away. This is Steve Kerr pulling the starting five and sitting them for a lot longer than he expected to, but then again, he hasn’t been face to face with a Pelican like this, i.e. he has never had to game plan for a completely healthy New Orleans Pelicans basketball team.

:28 seconds and the man with the roll up jeans, the stroller, and the dinky dolphin balloon wants no part of what’s happening. This is the Warriors bench (David Lee is in the stroller). When :34 hits, a small child comes into frame and runs as far away from mega-tron as fast as he can. This is probably Draymond Green because, although you cannot tell in this video, the child running away is probably very self-confident and loud in class.

We are :40 in to this now and the second man with the maroon polo (Andrew Bogut) is on his way out. Maybe it’s foul trouble or maybe it’s because of a crushed spirit, a typical reaction to this kind of situation. His curiosity inspires him to turn around for a double take but his lack of toughness is what keeps his feet moving in the opposite direction. He ain’t about that life.

The game is over by this point but the bystanders are still in the path of the Pelican. There’s a lady with an umbrella that read the weather report all wrong but is reading this situation correctly – there is something happening and she must get out of the way. She (Klay Thompson) grabs her daughter’s (Steph Curry) hand and skid-addles. It is not raining in this zoo and therefore there is nothing to splash.

Our video fades out at 1:01 and we get a quick glimpse of a small crowd. This is a big deal, this basketball juggernaut disguised as an actual pelican. As the video ends and we all go on with our respective days, we think about the New Orleans Pelicans playing together like one big, actual, pelican. Stomping through wherever with a purposeful swag, intimidating all.


Chris Trew is a comedian, podcaster, and Pelicans season-ticket holder. Listen to his podcast Trew 2 the Game and go see shows at his New Orleans comedy venue.

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Warriors and Pelicans Game One: Film Review http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/warriors-and-pelicans-game-one-film-review/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/warriors-and-pelicans-game-one-film-review/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 12:45:23 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=49291 The Anthony Davis playoff era began last night to what many believed to be an easy Warrior victory. Proceedings proved to fall in line with these sentiments as Golden State controlled much of the evening.

But, for what seemed destined for a blowout turned into a more competitive game as New Orleans scored 33 4th quarter points. The Pels held the Warriors to 4-16 from the field in the final period.

Eventually the game resulted in a pretty comfortable win for Golden State.

Today I’d like to take a look into exactly what the Pelicans were doing against the Warriors. GSW are a beast and beating them will be no small task.

Davis Iso’s

To start off the game the Pelicans wanted to go through their superstar Anthony Davis. This makes sense, Davis is by far and away the best offensive weapon New Orleans has. He’s versatile and very efficient. The problem however is that there are a variety of holes in AD’s game that can be exploited, should a team have the right mix of strategy, defensive length and overall talent.

The Golden State Warriors have all of that.

It was clear that the Warriors coaching staff had done a bang up job on game planning for Davis and it just so happened that they would get to test their strategy early on.

Davis iso’s featured a lot and it wasn’t working at all. AD’s decision making was poor and he didn’t seem to make the correct reads, consistently going where the Warriors were forcing him to. This resulted in turnovers, contested mid-range jumpers and him picking up his dribble.

And the problem was that the play design just doesn’t help out AD. It doesn’t have him on the move, nor any of his team-mates. It’s just one-on-one basketball which is what GSW wants. They can play help defense and clog the lane.

Example 1

Here Davis is isolated and the first thing to notice is how easily he has given up position close to the basket. He gets “pushed” out to 20 feet and then faces up. He then drives to the right, where all the help-defense is and gets stuck. AD picks up his dribble and passes out.

Green did a good job defensively, but Davis wasn’t really sure where he wanted to go. He couldn’t go left and when he put the ball on the floor (where he likes to do a hook shot) Draymond moved into the paint preventing an easier look.

The help defense is excellent too as Iguodala ignores a cutting Evans and stops AD in his tracks.

If this play was to go over again, Davis should be more patient. Wait for Evans to fully cut through so that should he get stuck with two defenders on him, he has somewhere to outlet to.

Example 2

Thompson initially shows Davis a look that indicates a double team. But rather it is the Warriors brilliant way of taking away the base-line drive which AD loves so much. What this causes is Davis to rethink his move and rather than work to find a shooter (or find the man who’s open) he picks up his dribble and lays it over to Pondexter for a contested long-jumper.

It’s exactly where Golden State want Davis to go and he obliges.

Example 3

Here we see a brief highlight of Davis’ tendency to go with his jumper when all else fails. Gordon has a look to the basket which he doesn’t take as he fumbled the ball. He gives it up to Davis who rather than try to work for something else jacks up a mid-range shot.

Again, Golden State wanted this. Why? Because look at Bogut. He’s icing the pick and does so perfectly. It prevents Gordon from driving to the hoop (which he wants to do). And the second Eric gives up the ball, Bogut recovers.

Example 4

Above is finally when the Pelicans adjusted and started to run some plays to get Davis on the move, cutting towards the basket. The help defense wasn’t as strong from the Warriors, but Cole did a beautiful job of threading the bounce pass to Davis who moved directly towards the basket for a dunk.

The action and movement is what is key here. Sure, you need to get the ball into your best players hands. But doing so in a stagnant, isolated way is not going to beat the best defensive team in the league.

Transition Defense

They try to put a lot of pressure on you off of makes and misses. They can get the ball down the floor on one-on-one situations in transition. It opens up so many lanes. We have to help and if we help, it opens up threes and offensive rebounding. — Monty Williams, April 6 2015 before Warriors regular season game

That’s right, all the way back in early April head coach Monty Williams identified one of the Warriors biggest strengths. In turn, Williams highlighted the need for good offense that would prevent GSW from even having a chance to get out in transition.

Turn the clock forward to game one and the exact thing that Monty was fearful of was happening in the first half. New Orleans’ offense was sputtering as they turned it over and clanked mid-range shots.

Example 1

The first quarter was where a lot of this happened, but it manifested itself midway through the third.

Here Gordon misses a three and the Warriors immediately push the ball up the court. Eric gets back to stop Draymond Green who cuts towards the basket. Unfortunately Gordon is then pinned underneath the basket taking him out of the play. Cole is then sort of left on an island. He’s taken the ball but because Pondexter is too pre-occupied with (Iguodala?) someone else, Thompson can cut to the basket for an easy layup.

It all happens in less than 5 seconds. Ridiculous.

Example 2

This second example happens on the very next possession. Asik turns the ball over and Curry again pushes the ball up the court. The Pelicans can’t matchup quick enough and Thompson is wide open on the wing. Steph swings the ball to Klay who then moves it to Iguodala who cashes in the three.

Precisely what coach Monty had alluded to just a few weeks before occurred. You go with the cutting man, you leave open the three ball. You take the three ball and you give a lane for the layup. It’s what gives GSW their edge and it’s a big reason why NOLA needs to have good, high octane offense.

Off-Ball Defense

A problem for many different stretches across the game was the Pelicans inability to communicate on off-ball screens. The Warriors love these to free up their guards and so if they can’t defend these it’ll be a long series.

Example 1

The first example here is a clear miscommunication. Pondexter thinks there is going to be a switch so stops fighting to stay with his man (Curry). Tyreke, does what he thinks is right and that is to show down to help Asik against Bogut. But, by doing so has made Pondexter think he’s actually going to take away Curry when in fact Evans thinks he’s containing the post-up and his original opponent Livingston.

This is literally the definition of a defensive breakdown. And it pains me to say it but it was pretty much everyone’s fault. Even Asik, who should be putting way more on-ball pressure to make a tougher pass. Rather he sort of just contains Bogut like he’s a threat to go to the basket (we’ll get to that later).

Example 2

This example here displays when Pondexter is more concerned with Curry and doesn’t help out Davis as a solid screen by Steph takes AD out of the play. This could of been a communication issue (no audio) but the way the Pels play this it conveys a sort of inconsistency with their approach to defending off-ball screens.

Sometimes they switch, sometimes they don’t. Pondexter might have been told to just “stay with Curry” and should that be the case he needs to help out AD somehow. These kinds of layups were extremely prevalent and just one of the ways that the Warriors attacked the paint at will.

Asik Defense

Arguably the most disappointing aspect of last night’s game was Asik’s defense. I’ve been putting together a piece on how he’s improved significantly since the All-Star break and been a big reason why the Pels are in the playoffs.

Last night though he was extremely poor. His pick and roll coverage was off, he was out of position on a number of occasions and what was really upsetting was his overall activity. He just wasn’t displaying the confidence we usually see.

Example 1

This first example shows Asik trying to ice the pick. The purpose of this is to insight the opponent to take a mid-range jumpshot. Asik does that at first, but what he doesn’t do is get back to the basket in time for Bogut who has rolled and is wide open for a dunk.

The same type of play happens moments later and this time Asik gets back to the roll man, but instead of protecting the basket, gives an open layup to Thompson.

Example 2

The second example sort of extends the pick and roll aspect to something that speaks to the disappointment of Asik’s play last night. Bogut, who has no business beating an opponent on an iso, faces up looking for the pass (which Asik has given up before). Rather than pressure Bogut, Asik is slow to react as Bogut cuts baseline. Such slow anticipation is unusual for Asik. But it wasn’t even that, after initially beaten Omer didn’t even contest the shot.

Van Gundy even noticed this, later chastising Asik for his lackadaisical effort.

I’d be inclined to think Omer is going to improve his play, but last night Andrew Bogut completely outclassed him at his own game.

4th quarter explosion

I didn’t think we played too smart on offense. I thought we took some shots that don’t go along with aggression. I want us to be aggressive. – Monty Williams after the 1st quarter where NOLA scored 13 points

Finally we get to the positive. The Pelicans were down big heading into the 4th, down 18 (the same as the half-time deficit). What ensued was finally a version of the Pelicans that fans had come to know from the regular season. AD started to begin making better decisions and was doing a good job moving towards the basket.

His team-mates too started to move without the ball in the half-court set, which we will see gave the superstar a chance to score at a very rapid pace.

Example 1 – Davis faceup dunk drive (started it all) (5:05)

This is where things began to finally kick in. Davis, receving the ball at the top of the key swung down and ripped through and began to drive to the basket. The result was a dunk.

But I want you to go back to the top (in the 1st Q), where AD was receving multiple iso plays to get the ball in his hands. What is the clear difference?

Well, if you didn’t guess it already it was off-ball movement. Look before Davis drives. What is happening? Ryno is “setting a screen” for Cole and he too is moving. Curry, completely loses Cole and tries to help against Davis. If Steph were in a better position, Davis still might of been able to find Cole/Gordon in the corner.

Example 2 – AD iso hook shot (4:11)

Davis again moves aggressively. He’s trying to get into the paint. The help defense isn’t there like in the first half because the Pelicans are starting to run off-iso actions; they’re more active. Barnes is worrying about Anderson. Iggy is sort of doing nothing and Klay is worried about Gordon.

But AD’s decisiveness and aggressiveness combined with a little more off-ball action resulted in a better look. His intention and action to get to the paint completely contrasts the first quarter.

Example 3 – AD Jam (3:00)

Just a fun dunk. But again Davis is on the move, rolling towards the hoop. What makes this work is Anderson. See how Barnes sticks to him? If this was Asik you can almost guarantee a contest or at very best, a foul. Integrating more of these types of plays with Anderson in the lineup will be crucial if the Pelicans are to get their superstar rolling.

Example 4 – Gordon 3 (3:27)

And I want to show you an earlier example. See the play is set up for Anderson. He’s open, cuts when his man closes on him which frees up Gordon for a wide open look. This offense didn’t even exist in the first half.

Look how all the Warriors sink into the paint to cover both Davis and a driving Ryno.

Example 4 – Great out of bounds play (1:35)

 

The theme continued with a beautiful out of timeout play design by Monty and his staff. Cole gets a screen from Davis (who was freed up by Gordon) who both then look to screen for Pondexter.

But! It’s all an elaborate rouse as the Warriors and Bogut scramble Davis is freed up who then cuts and gets a nice little baby hook.

The contrast in style was absolute between the first and second halves. Defensively it was noticeably different too. With Asik out the Pelicans went small early (with Cunningham inserted). New Orleans contained GSW without Curry and then when Asik was re-inserted mid-way through the period he was once again pulled for a smaller, Ryno focused lineup.

Playoff basketball is a lot about matchups. The Pelicans need to know they can compete with the best. There are areas they’ll need to take note on and figure out a comprehensive strategy to contain things. My summation on game one is that the first half was very much a “feeling out” stage for the Pelicans.

They wanted to get the ball to Davis, but when it failed they seemed passive and unsure how to adjust. In the second half it changed. All of a sudden they began to move, cut and as Williams said started to be “aggressive.”

 

 

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