BourbonStreetShots.com http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion Mon, 21 May 2018 15:13:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 In the NO Episode 313: Off-season preview http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/20/in-the-no-episode-313-off-season-preview/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/20/in-the-no-episode-313-off-season-preview/#respond Sun, 20 May 2018 17:06:53 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56795 Michael and I wrap up our era hosting the Pod by going into the off-season.  How much to offer for DeMarcus, can the Pels land Paul George?  Can they go after a big free agent?  What is Rondo worth, and what can be offered to him?  Will the Pelicans be better next year? Want it […]]]>

Michael and I wrap up our era hosting the Pod by going into the off-season.  How much to offer for DeMarcus, can the Pels land Paul George?  Can they go after a big free agent?  What is Rondo worth, and what can be offered to him?  Will the Pelicans be better next year?

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Jesse Brooks stops following Bourbon Street Shots on Instagram http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/16/jesse-brooks-stops-following-bourbon-street-shots-on-instagram/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/16/jesse-brooks-stops-following-bourbon-street-shots-on-instagram/#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 16:31:44 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56775 Even though there are no meaningful games to cover, the NBA off-season can be one of the most eventful and entertaining parts of the league. There’s the draft, NBA Summer League, and, of course, free agency. I’m not talking about NBA free agency. I’m talking about NBA blogger free agency. During the summer months, NBA […]]]>

Even though there are no meaningful games to cover, the NBA off-season can be one of the most eventful and entertaining parts of the league. There’s the draft, NBA Summer League, and, of course, free agency.

I’m not talking about NBA free agency. I’m talking about NBA blogger free agency.

During the summer months, NBA blogs around the league attempt to upgrade their rosters in any way possible within their own unique constraints, and the free agent NBA media content contributors balance multiple priorities that often conflict with one another – money, content requirements, public visibility, and the chance to write/record for a title contending team’s website, to name a few.

With all of these factors in play, Bourbon Street Shots was able to make one critical addition before the start of the 2017-18 season – Jesse Brooks, a Louisiana native. Brooks’ first season with the BSS squad started strong, but competing “real world” commitments – managing Small Town Stories, portraying zombies in the film industry, and writing/performing Americana music – have caused conflicting opinions regarding his value in the upcoming free agency period. Bourbon Street Shots leadership has been very clear about the desire to bring Brooks back and can offer him more than any other blog, but the risks of committing a significant investment to him are also very real.

That backstory brings us to this morning, when it was discovered that Brooks stopped following the Bourbon Street Shots Instagram account. When Brooks was asked (from a curious account with zero posts and zero followers) about why he took this action, he actually responded – a surprise on its own given how infrequently Brooks replies to comments on his Instagram page – with “bc I’m an ADULT.”

The next question is obvious – does this move by Brooks signal anything regarding his future with BSS or elsewhere? The answer, obviously, is no. In any contract negotiation, both sides will take steps to gain whatever leverage they can to capture as much value as possible. Brooks knows that not only can Bourbon Street Shots pay him more money than any other blog, but that the NBA blog market is very tight this summer, so his options for a especially lucrative contract as a free agent are limited outside of New Orleans. He also knows that, despite full confidence in his own ability to bounce back to his level of production towards the beginning of last season, many other teams will not be as optimistic.

Brooks’ main point of leverage exists specifically with Bourbon Street Shots. Should he choose to leave, his former blog does not have the space to replace him with a contributor anywhere near his caliber in free agency. Therefore, any action that can be interpreted as a willingness to walk – even something as silly as un-following an account on social media – is a lever to pull. Does it actually matter to BSS? Will it impact the site’s decision-making process in any way? It is quite unlikely, and that’s without the consideration that Bourbon Street Shots GM Jason Calmes doesn’t even have an Instagram account. But it motivated fans and fellow NBA media folk to speculate about its implications, so Brooks has already achieved what he set out to do, and now BSS has to deal with all of the superficial nonsense that goes along with it.

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All Things Considered: Boogie Edition http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/15/all-things-considered-boogie-edition/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/15/all-things-considered-boogie-edition/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 13:28:49 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56769   In November while the Pelicans’ season was very much getting off the ground I wrote about “The Big Conundrum”. This piece revolved around the success of Davis centric lineups and posed the question of how best to optimize the Davis and Cousins pairing given the success of the aforementioned lineups. I had optimistically hoped […]]]>

 

In November while the Pelicans’ season was very much getting off the ground I wrote about “The Big Conundrum”. This piece revolved around the success of Davis centric lineups and posed the question of how best to optimize the Davis and Cousins pairing given the success of the aforementioned lineups. I had optimistically hoped that as the season progressed and we gathered more data, a sharper picture of the Pelicans’ composition and needs would form. On January 26, that all went out the window when Cousins went down with his achilles injury. What complicates the situation further is the fact that the Pelicans went on to acquire Nikola Mirotic (mentioned as a target in the piece above from NOVEMBER cough cough)  and put forth their best season since 2010-2011. The sustained success the Pelicans had by fully committing to the idea of Davis in space (and without Cousins), only served to raise more questions about the future of the franchise and the direction it should take. Originally I claimed that this team would only go as far as the pairing of Davis and Cousins would take them, but Cousins’ injury now puts a cloud of uncertainty on that ceiling. With Cousins’ free agency upon us, all things need to be considered when making a decision that will shape the future of the franchise. Lucky for you, I’m here to do just that.

What the Numbers Do and Don’t Capture

The metrics you use are only as strong as their relationship with the desired outcome. In the NBA the desired outcome is winning – long-term, sustained winning. Teams pay big money to analytics departments to derive predictive measures that can project that value of players and observe the efficacy of various lineups. While these metrics aren’t without flaw, large enough samples do need to be taken into consideration. In the case of the Pelicans, the numbers strongly suggest that Davis paired better with Mirotic than Cousins, and reinforce the idea that Davis (and the Pelicans by proxy) need space to reach their ceiling. You have lineup data (the metric), and the win-loss record (the outcome). At a surface level there is a clear point A to point B relationship between that lineup data and how the Pelicans performed. But is it reasonable to assume that this relationship is sustainable long term?

To answer this, we need to look at factors not necessarily captured by the data that may have contributed to the result. We can do this by examining the common denominator in any success the Pelicans have ever had – Anthony Davis. Davis has been and always will be at the center of Pelicans’ organizational strategy. In order to be the best possible version of the team, you need the best possible version of Anthony Davis. To me this relationship outlines the biggest single factor that impacts the Pelicans’s future success – maximizing Davis. This happens both from a talent standpoint which can be captured quantitatively, but also from the standpoint of internal growth as a player and a leader. There are mental and emotional aspects of the game that can’t be captured on paper. Can you quantify toughness? Can you quantify chemistry? What about the ability of a player to instill confidence in his teammates? They may sound like platitudes but I think Davis has made strides in all these areas this season. There is a very human component to maximizing Davis that needs to be considered, especially when looking at some of the things Cousins brings to the table.

What Boogie Brings

About 26 and 12 if you ask head coach, Alvin Gentry. At his best, Cousins in an unstoppable force that no team in the league is equipped to handle. His sheer size, skill, and dexterity are a combination that is not matched by any player in the league. Even on his off days, Cousins brings a presence that needs to be accounted for at all times. Yet when looking at what Cousins brings to the table, we need to ask “what does DeMarcus Cousins do for Anthony Davis?”

From a numbers standpoint, Cousins helped Davis reached a level of efficiency we had not seen before. In the 42 games leading up to Cousins’ injury, Davis sported a career best True Shooting percentage of 63%. In the 33 games following the injury, Davis’ efficiency dropped to 59.2%. Cousins allowed Davis to not only pick his spots on offense, but also face easier coverage as defenses had to account for the commanding presence of Cousins as well as his playmaking. When Davis was experiencing an off night, Cousins was there to pick up the slack. The lion’s share of the offense no longer fell upon Davis. It had become a shared burden.

Cousins also shielded Davis from the physical burden of playing the center position for the majority of his minutes. There is a common belief that Davis has internally let it be known that he prefers not to play center because of the toll it takes on his body. Cousins was more than happy to take that responsibility and relished the opportunity to embarrass opposing big men. The on court domination was something Davis never had before in a teammate. Cousins could lead by example and the duo learned from each other.

I would also argue that Cousins brought out a tougher version of Davis. In the past where Davis may have sat a game due to an injury, Cousins was now there to push him. This was perhaps best captured by a late March game in Los Angeles against the Clippers where Cousins was in attendance. During the game, Davis suffered an inadvertent elbow leading to a chest contusion. It was this injury that led DeMarcus to say “If you don’t want to go back in, let me get your achilles”. Even before this event, Cousins famously called Davis while the Pelicans were slumping, insisting Davis get back to playing like himself. It’s moments like these throughout the season where Cousins pushed Davis and the team along, challenging them to be better. Cousins brought out the best of Davis from a mental standpoint and these facts need to be considered in his free agency decision.

What About the Chemistry?

Since the season has ended, the players, the coaches, and Dell have all stressed one thing: chemistry. Players mention sacrificing for each other, meshing off the court, and having frequent team dinners as one of the major reasons for success. Given that success, the chemistry conversation is one that needs to be had.

It’s no secret the Cousins can be difficult to deal with. If you say one wrong thing, you might find yourself the subject of a few choice curse words. This behavior can be grating on the coaches off the court, who would rather not constantly have to check themselves. On the court, Cousins can be an offensive black hole. He can derail actions with his slow, indecisive dribbling at the top of the key, or haphazard drives into a crowded paint. At times it seems Cousins wants to be the total focal point and will force the issue to assert that. These assertions often lead to turnovers and put the Pelicans in dangerous cross-match situations in transition while Cousins is in the back court complaining to a referee. Without Cousins, the Pelicans led the league in pace and vaulted their defense to a top 5 spot. They also improved their turnover percentage from 23rd in the league pre-injury to 11th. There is merit to the chemistry argument and how well the Pelicans embraced a new identity should not be ignored.

Part of maximizing Davis is also empowering the guards around him. Both Jrue and Rondo need space to operate and function best with the ball in their hands. DeMarcus, with his tendencies to hold on to the ball longer than necessary, often steers offense away from them. The Rondo and Cousins pairing was disastrous from a net rating perspective, and while the pairing with Jrue was positive, it wasn’t nearly as strong as the Davis only or even Mirotic only counterparts. In our deep dive into rotations, we discovered how Jrue was actually seeing most of his success when Cousins went to the bench. Jrue’s usage and efficiency skyrocketed with a more open floor.

Yet the Pelicans were showing tremendous chemistry right before Cousins went down as well. They had won 7 of their previous 8 games, capping the run with a hallmark win over the Rockets. The players were showing all signs of clicking and buying in.  One look at their social medias would highlight how well Davis, Cousins, and Rondo were meshing off the court too (Scandyland anyone?). Players had found their groove, and that included Jrue who was averaging an efficient 20-5-5 over December and January. The Pelicans were on the cusp of something great and it was a feeling that was infectious. An overtime win in Boston was described to me by one person close to the team as “the best win I have ever been a part of at any level”. A few games later the Pelicans topped themselves with a 17 point comeback and double overtime victory against Chicago – a victory powered by an absolutely monstrous 44-23-10 outing by Cousins. Can the Pelicans capture that magic again? Will Cousins recover enough to be the same ingredient in that success?

The Market

If you answered no to the questions posed above, then you likely believe the best course of action for the Pelicans is to move on from Cousins. In that event, the Pelicans would likely explore the possibility of signing and trading Cousins so they do not risk losing him for nothing. But sign-and-trades are problematic. For starters, sign-and-trades hard cap the receiving team. Any team that does not have their cap sheet in order would be limited in spending right at what the league calls the apron. With the copious spending of summers past, not many teams have the requisite space to absorb a potential Cousins’ contract. They would likely need to attach equal or more salary in return for the Pelicans. These restrictions are often prohibitive for both teams. The Pelicans do not want dead salary, and the receiving team would likely want flexibility with regards to the apron. Otto Porter is a name that is frequently thrown out as a potential sign-and-trade partner, but Porter’s contract carries a 15% trade kicker. This means that Washington would owe him additional money if they opt to move him. Needless to say, Washington’s cap is already in a precarious place with Wall’s looming extension kicking in the following year, so having to pay Porter 15% more just to move him may not be appetizing.

Secondly, Cousins is a free agent. He is, by definition, free to sign with any team and there is nothing stopping him. The Pelicans have the ability to offer him the most money for the most amount of years, but Cousins is no longer a “no-brainer” max contract. If negotiations don’t go well for the Pelicans, Cousins is free to walk to any team that may offer him what he wants. The good news is there are few teams with max or near max level cap space this summer. There are even fewer teams that have the space and are not tanking. Most playoff teams are capped out, and the ones with space would likely pursue free agents such as Paul George. This leaves us with very few destinations for Cousins to bolt to. Perhaps the biggest threat to sign him outright is Dallas. Dallas has near max level space and is seeking to be a competitive team in what will perhaps be the final year of Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas has already maxed Wesley Matthews coming off an achilles injury himself, so it’s not improbable they gamble on Cousins. Still, while the open market is not that promising for Cousins, it is a concern that needs to be monitored.

Conclusion

The Pelicans flat out need more talent on the team and right now their best path to it is through DeMarcus Cousins. Davis and Holiday played inspired basketball down the stretch, but in an 82 game season, you need that 3rd somebody you can rely on to carry you to or past the finish line. Any decision that involves moving on from Cousins needs to reliably fill the roles he does in some fashion. There needs to be appropriate talent coming back, they need to be someone who the players enjoy playing with, and most of all, they need to maximize Anthony Davis. Given these needs, I think it will be difficult for the Pelicans to find someone or a few players who check all of the boxes right off the bat. Otto Porter is a fine basketball player, but if Davis goes down for an extended period, do you trust that team to hold ground? In my perfect world, the Pelicans agree to a 2+1 deal with Cousins, with the final year being a team option. This deal allows the Pelicans to explore Cousins’ fit with the new roster and allow him to potentially recoup value as he shows how he responds to his recovery. This option also effectively creates an expiring contract in year 2 which could be a great trade chip in a cap-dry market. The Pelicans and Cousins will have to adjust to each other when Cousins eventually returns to the court, but this deal should be fair to both parties. If Cousins wants more money and more years, I would explore the sign-and-trade market a bit more intently. The good news is, the Pelicans have a tremendous blueprint for success without Cousins and can use that to their negotiating advantage. It’s going to be a fascinating summer, so let’s see how it shakes out.

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In the NO Pod Ep. 312: Season Retrospective http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/10/in-the-no-pod-ep-312-season-retrospective/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/05/10/in-the-no-pod-ep-312-season-retrospective/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 04:52:54 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56766 Michael and I put a bow on the season, recapping the experience, what we liked, hated, and if the season was a success or not. We then talked about best moments, surprising players, turning points, and ranked this season against previous Pelican/Hornets seasons. I also really enjoyed remembering that Pelicans sweep.

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Thoughts on Round 2 Versus the Warriors http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/28/thoughts-on-round-2-versus-the-warriors/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/28/thoughts-on-round-2-versus-the-warriors/#respond Sat, 28 Apr 2018 22:04:01 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56755 The New Orleans Pelicans officially usher in Round 2 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs tonight when they play the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. The Warriors have the clear advantage in the series, but they are not invincible. You’ve seen good analysis from Pellissier on this, and I’ll touch on that and a few other […]]]>

The New Orleans Pelicans officially usher in Round 2 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs tonight when they play the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. The Warriors have the clear advantage in the series, but they are not invincible. You’ve seen good analysis from Pellissier on this, and I’ll touch on that and a few other things.

  • Series Prediction. I’m just going to say Warriors in 6. They have the firepower, discipline, experience, and depth. The Pelicans can win a couple, and I expect them to do so, and I don’t expect this to be easy for the Warriors. The questions are “How do we get there?” and “What comes of that result?”
  • Golden State Strengths. Their offense is among the top in the NBA. They shoot well . . . tops in the NBA from 2 and from 3 . . . and this is very much related to their quality passing . . . tops in NBA, again. They clearly have the experience and depth, and they have a cachet that has the potential to rattle opponents from before the series until after its conclusion.
  • Golden State Weaknesses. If Steph Curry is not in top form, he’s still a great player, but not having a transcendent, defense-defining player and shooter playing at that level is a disadvantage given their typical game plans. The Warriors do not actually shoot that much. They wait for the shot, feed the man (often necessary), and make it. They do not protect the ball or go for steals, they are not hungry for rebounds. Thus, they play to pure shooting efficiency, not aggregate and ugly possession efficiency.
  • How to Press the Warriors. At a high level, there are a few things I see as necessary. One, you have to play to your offense’s strengths. Two, protect possessions. Three, go after assists. Four, take risks.
  • Pelicans Offense. The Warriors’ defense, while good, is not tops in the NBA, and they are not built to deal with a pair like Davis and Mirotic. Get everything you can there. You need enough from the perimeter, or at least coming from the perimeter, to give space for the bigs to operate efficiently inside. The bigs and the guards can all work on the perimeter, which helps.
  • Protect Possessions. Limit your turnovers, get turnovers from them, grab the rebounds on both ends against a Warriors team that does not seem to interested or able in them. Limit their shot attempts, or even their attempts to attempt.
  • Disrupt Assists. The primary Warriors’ strength to attack, because you need to do that, is the assists. They will get them and they will take and make shots, but make them as difficult as possible. Guys like Durant and Curry are somewhat unaffected by typical defenses and are not hyper-sensitive to “being in their spots,” and I’m not saying not to guard them, but I do not think overloading onto them is a recipe for success. Attack the passes by jumping lanes, tipping the ball, some trapping. Attack their desire to pass by playing well away from ball. Shatter their expectations, make their stars work. No rest. No quarter.
  • Take Risks. Somewhat alluded to already, the Pelicans need to take risks. If you are the clearly weaker opponent, then you have less to lose. That makes the risks worth it. You have to be unconventional. Thank goodness, they already are, but they need to amp that up responsibly. This is will not be won by a faint-hearted, loss-averse tea-totaling underdog. If the underdog surprises the world again, it will be because they played the player and did not play the game. It will be because they took the shot they needed, it will be because they took the ball they needed rather than just waiting for “their turn” against the Warriors. The Pelicans have to protect the ball, but on defense they can take chances. I see some unconventional shooting coming, too. If you have the possession-efficiency advantage, you take some risky shots to try to open up room for Davis and Mirotic. We saw their own pride come out in various ways, including fun and physicality, against the Trail Blazers. They are rested and hopefully pent-up, chomping at the bit, ready to rock. That physicality and team-work will need to be palpable for the Pelicans to have a good chance.
  • Pride. Pride is central in a few ways. Pride is on the line here, and that pride can have many long-term effects. Once you are in Round 2, there are more eyes on your team at home, in the NBA, and in front of keyboards. Lazy analysts will spot you some advantage in analysis because of it, casual fans will take it as a succinct summary of your quality, and conforming writers with quotas and deadlines will echo it quickly, easily, and readily. Davis and Holiday got swept by these Warriors (and Gentry) in their last Playoff stint, and a second sweep would likely be hard to swallow for anyone unless it was really tightly fought. Winning a couple, however, is going to have many positive effects on and off the court. It will show to other players who might be looking for a change of scenery, and it will be the fuel for their I-believe-necessary risk taking throughout the series. You don’t take the risk if you feel defeated.

Get ’em, guys.

Proud of you.

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Things to Watch in the Pels-Warriors Series http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/26/things-to-watch-in-the-pels-warriors-series/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/26/things-to-watch-in-the-pels-warriors-series/#respond Thu, 26 Apr 2018 19:46:59 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56753 Jrue Holiday at the rim Jrue is playing at the highest level of his career, mainly because of his newfound ability to finish at the rim. This can be attributed to multiple things: cleaning up his handle, more space to operate, an increased focus on finishing with his left hand, and an increased use of […]]]>
  1. Jrue Holiday at the rim
    • Jrue is playing at the highest level of his career, mainly because of his newfound ability to finish at the rim. This can be attributed to multiple things: cleaning up his handle, more space to operate, an increased focus on finishing with his left hand, and an increased use of his strength to create separation.
    • Against the Blazers, Jrue shot 78.4% at the rim on close to 9 attempts per game. This is a much higher efficiency than he has ever registered during a season, but again, this is also easily the most aggressive and effective Jrue has been on offense here.
    • Finishing at the rim vs. the Warriors will be a tougher task, because the team has so much overall length. The Warriors lead the league in blocked shots by a significant margin and are stacked with perimeter length and mobility.  Basically, Jrue is going to be finishing against guys no shorter than 6’6 unless Steph is back.  Jrue can still be successful, but it will be a taller order and how he fares here is instrumental to the success of the Pelicans.
  2. Defensive adjustments
    • The Pelicans spent the Blazers series trapping Damian Lillard and putting the ball in the hands of poor playmakers and living with outside shots from guys besides Lillard and CJ.
    • This strategy will likely go away versus Durant, who is simply too long to trap. Durant can throw over the top of the defense in a way that Lillard could not, and the Warriors are blessed with playmaking at multiple positions in a way that the Blazers were not.
    • Without Steph, however, defending the Warriors is easier, albeit still very, very difficult. Without Steph, the defense doesn’t have to extend as far at the point of attack, which puts other players in a better position to help.  However, the Warriors do an excellent job of getting Klay moving off the ball, and that requires simultaneous tracking of the ball and a deadly shooter.
    • One thing that I think is key to defending the Warriors: don’t double Draymond on the ball. The Warriors are too loaded elsewhere to worry about Draymond the scorer.  Much like the Pelicans lived with certain Blazers shots, I think it’s imperative that they allow Draymond to be a scorer.  His natural instinct is to create for others and he succeeds at making the right passes.  Let him beat you 1 v 1 if he chooses to attack that way.
  3. Hiding Rondo
    • Rondo’s lack of height/bulk can manifest in several sets of problems versus the Warriors:
      • An inability to switch onto bigger players, resulting in less defensive flexibility
      • An inability to defend bigger players in the post, forcing help from other Pelicans
      • An inability or unwillingness to fight through screens, which are frequent and effectively used by the Warriors
  1. Davis handling Green’s physicality
    • Draymond Green is unequivocally a top 5 defender in the NBA, possessing the strength, willingness, and intangibles to defend positions 1-5.
    • Last playoff series, Davis absolutely dominated Draymond, which is a testament to Davis’s offensive firepower. In the last 2 seasons (6 games) vs. the Warriors, Davis has averaged 34 points on 60% shooting.  However, Davis sometimes allowed the physicality of the Blazers series to get him out of his game, and this is something that he must avoid versus someone like Draymond, who is both an excellent defender and excellent at getting into the heads of his opponents.
    • The Warriors have already mentioned how Davis was free for tons of lobs in the Blazers series.  I expect plenty of bumps on Davis’s rolls from 3rd defenders to keep him from generating easy buckets.  This focused attention means that other Pelicans must maintain proper spacing to force the Warriors into tougher help decisions and that they must burn the Warriors for cheating on Davis rolls.
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Playoff success for Jrue Holiday result of rare patience in professional sports http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/25/playoff-success-for-jrue-holiday-result-of-rare-patience-in-professional-sports/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/25/playoff-success-for-jrue-holiday-result-of-rare-patience-in-professional-sports/#respond Wed, 25 Apr 2018 23:24:02 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56745 A nation has rediscovered who Jrue Holiday is now that the New Olreans Pelicans have become the only team to sweep their opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Holiday dominated on both ends of the floor, proving to be a handful for Damian Lilliard and C.J. McCollum, […]]]>

A nation has rediscovered who Jrue Holiday is now that the New Olreans Pelicans have become the only team to sweep their opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Holiday dominated on both ends of the floor, proving to be a handful for Damian Lilliard and C.J. McCollum, who are considered an elite backcourt in the NBA.

It’s easy to see why so many are taking notice of Holiday since the playoffs began. His defense has been physical and smothering. Offensively Holiday is playing well above his career average in scoring in the playoffs, logging in 27.8 ppg. as compared to 19 ppg. for his career. Not only are the numbers making his case, but Holiday is dominating with authority, driving into opponents and pointing at them after the finish. It’s like watching a playoff Russell Westbrook that can defend, but also keep his offensive game under smooth control. There’s a lot of power in his drive and yet an element of finesse in his finish.

For those of us watching the games, we know Holiday didn’t just arrive overnight and that he has been very good for New Orleans this season. In the months of December, January and February Holiday averaged over 20 ppg., and he never averaged below 15 ppg. any month this season. What is even better, he averaged seven or more assists each month since February. Truly, Holiday has been doing it all for this team.

The game that knocked the Blazers out in four, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday combined for a whopping 88 points for one of the greatest postseason duo efforts of all time.

Considering all the factors of the recent past, the Pelicans are lucky to have this guard who is now turning in elite performances.

Jrue has had a very tough road leading up to this moment. He arrived in New Orleans via trade hurt following the season he was selected as an Eastern Conference All-Star in 2013, and stayed under 100 percent healthy for about three seasons. During this period, he also had to adjust to two different head coaches with drastically different systems.

The last time New Orleans loved a point guard, they loved Chris Paul. Holiday is not Chris Paul. He was an attacking point guard being asked to be a distributor for a young Davis and Eric Gordon at shooting guard. His health and new role threw his game off, while we still saw flashes from time-to-time of who he really was.

The last time Holiday made national headlines before these playoffs was a season ago for the challenge his family faced while off the court. His wife Lauren, diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with their first child, needed an oppression. Holiday bravely stepped away from basketball during the process, and the team ownership under Tom and Gayle Benson supported the Holidays by paying him a full salary and reserving his place with the teams.

This act in itself is a rare act of loyalty and understanding for a professional sports team fighting to stay relevant in a high stakes competitive arena. Not even Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, saw that kind of treatment with the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL when he missed an entire season with a neck injury. As we all know, Manning went on to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in his stint with his second team after being released.

In the absence of winning, most of the criticisms about Holiday were more about criticizing GM Dell Demps for giving up first round draft picks over the next five seasons, which, by the way, those picks have not amounted very much so far. In Demps’s mind, his resources are limited compared to most GMs around the league so the philosophy is that any time you can land star power in a small market you do it. Trading is the best vehicle in this atmosphere.

While many forgot or gave up on Holiday, the main person that did not give up on the potential of Holiday was Demps. The idea of giving Holiday a $125 million contract for five years was not popular with both fans and media. Many were haunted by the former long term deals that Demps had handed to centers Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik. Names like George Hill were thrown out as possible Holiday re-placements by fans that feared the long term deal. However, as the public lost their trust in Holiday and Demps, their trust in each other became solidified.

Instinctive deals can make or break your franchise in today’s insanely lucrative world of professional sports. This leads to split second decisions and relationships, even with stars, that get cut abruptly. Last offseason we saw Blake Griffin sign a 5-year $171 million deal with the Clippers only to be traded to Detroit this season, despite Los Angeles still having to pay Griffin $215,000 for four years due to a 15 percent trade kicker. We all know that a lack of loyalty also landed the Pelicans Sacramento’s face-of-the-franchise DeMarcus Cousins for a developing rookie Buddy Hield and pieces.

Philly’s #TrustTheProcess model is how Holiday ended up in New Orleans. After years of what appeared as tanking, critics are praising what is Sixers first signs of positive results this season. The Process was brutal. Holiday, Nerlins Noel and Jahil Okafor are all no longer a part of it. Ironically, though the Philly model and NOLA model are opposite sides of the spectrum, they have produced similar results. We may be awful now, but it will all be worth it in the end. 

Though New Orleans and Philadelphia are both winners this season, there’s something refreshing about the old school nature of the way the Pelicans have done business and it appears to be a mark of the Benson, or even Mickey Loomis and Demps, model. This is a place that will invest in you and believe in you. No corporate fake speak, let’s get personal.

When it comes to offseasons, a lot of focus seems to fall on what organizations need to do but players have to protect themselves as well. Money and media access can be great, but what about trust? What the Pelicans organization seems to have demonstrated is that patience and trust is highly valued, and that plays a factor with these players. It seeks to a creative guy like Rajon Rondo, or to players like Darius Miller and Emeka Okafor looking to re-enter the league and produce.

In an atmosphere that seems to be ever fleeting, patience and trust may be the Pelicans’ best secret weapon.

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In the NO Pod Ep. 311: Brooms! Brooms! http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/23/in-the-no-pod-ep-311-brooms-brooms/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/23/in-the-no-pod-ep-311-brooms-brooms/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:18:30 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56739 A sweep! Michael and I get to break down quite possibly the most exciting results we’ve had since starting the Pod! We break down what went right, marvel at having three legitimate MVP players for the series (Mike and I stake out our position on them) and I trash Portland. Cuz screw those guys. We […]]]>

A sweep! Michael and I get to break down quite possibly the most exciting results we’ve had since starting the Pod! We break down what went right, marvel at having three legitimate MVP players for the series (Mike and I stake out our position on them) and I trash Portland. Cuz screw those guys. We wonder at whether the team can carry this momentum into Golden State, and talk about GSW both with and without Curry as an opponent. And we make our predictions!

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Thoughts on the Staff and the Offseason http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/21/thoughts-on-the-staff-and-the-offseason/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/21/thoughts-on-the-staff-and-the-offseason/#comments Sat, 21 Apr 2018 19:35:45 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56465 More and more will be written in time about the Offseason, but since I have seen some thoughts about it floating around in the second half of the season, I’ll go ahead and talk about some of it now. Today, I’ll focus on the Staff. The discussion will be in two parts. First, I’ll talk […]]]>

More and more will be written in time about the Offseason, but since I have seen some thoughts about it floating around in the second half of the season, I’ll go ahead and talk about some of it now.

Today, I’ll focus on the Staff. The discussion will be in two parts. First, I’ll talk about the Staff. Then, I will address the common discussion of the Staff (which you may want to ignore).

  • Assuming this series plays out the way all the data and analysis says it should as we sit here prior to Game 4, the Pelicans need to, according to my judgment:
    • Put Gentry and Demps under contract for next season
    • Announce that fact officially and with fanfare
    • Introduce Gentry at games following this announcement

Here’s why:

  • The contracts of Demps and Gentry can be ended naturally this season. They can also be extended one season. Lastly, either could have been let go prior to the end of the season in advance of the natural end of the contracts, but this didn’t happen.
  • You can call not extending a contract “firing” that person. Fine. I wouldn’t, but I can see why some would, especially when there is an option to extend the contract, since that would imply a unilateral decision to walk away from a continued relationship. I see it as honoring a contract, by both sides, whether you pick the option up or not. If the performance of either party is not acceptable, you terminate the contract or remove the person from their position while the contract remains nominally in place (which I would call firing). If it is, ride it out. If an offer you can’t refuse comes along, you don’t refuse, and you “fire” the one person because they are not as good as the other option available. Just replacing someone when their contract runs out? This is not as dramatic as any of that other stuff.
  • Neither Gentry nor Dell is at the top of their respective professions, nor do I think they are at the bottom. Gentry is an established coach. Dell entered the NBA as an up-and-comer and he’s improved. I think anyone qualified to judge will tell you the same. This is not glowing praise, and this is not damning them in any way. This is simply my evaluation of where they are among others in their profession.
  • One thing missing from most of the vitriolic or attention-seeking comments about their jobs are the actual replacements. Each person is not a real needle-mover alone, but most others are not. It’s simply a question of style and fit in most cases. Acknowledging the realities of the situation is not to advocate keeping either person in their role forever. Rather, it sets up the conditions for replacement: You want a change of fit you think will help the function of the team or organization (e.g. personality conflicts) or you wait for a significant improvement in quality. Those needle movers decide where to go, so you need to spruce up the opportunity in various ways to land one. These ways include money, power, independence, and resources.
  • The organization should periodically review if they can improve ANYTHING in their organization. They do. The fact that they can’t attract the top talent out of their current jobs is an issue with the ORGANIZATION itself, not with Gentry or Demps. It’s not just the reputation of the organization and the willful ignorance about its ownership and management structure (which is pretty simple, actually, and comments from the outside to the contrary are tactical comments in my opinion). It’s also the ability of those in the organization to make the important decisions ABOUT Dell and Gentry AND their potential replacements or assistants and make the call. THESE are the decisions that drive all other and they are simply under-discussed.
  • Why are they under-discussed? Well, they aren’t under-discussed by me or others here. Elsewhere, the top answer is just attention-seeking. Touting change is exciting and talking about firing a coach is common demagoguery. They can back that up by saying that it’s a player’s league, discussing the CBA (poorly), or talking about “the system” that they can’t describe in detail since that signals some sort of knowledge (present or not) that they wager the consumers do not possess in great numbers (also, since most “content” is just an ad for an ad, no one reads for substance and the writers know it, use it). So, it’s just an easy “move” by the people in the “game.” Another reason is: they just don’t think about it. Even if they have a business background, it’s apparently not very good because they don’t understand that it all starts at the top. Lastly, these things are just slow to change. It tells people to come back WAY later, which is counter-productive for those who are incentivized by attention (whether they are paid or not).
  • I said this past offseason, for the reasons above and more, that this season was absolutely critical for their jobs. That’s still true. I also said that if I was going to make a “send a message” type of move mid-season, I’d let go of Dell in that case. This would have made things more stable for Cousins and the actual message would be sent to the prime candidates early, perhaps whetting their appetites and starting the initial conversations for seismic decisions. I stand by that if they wanted to make a move. I was not advocating for it, nor am I now. I’m just saying if it happened, that’s they way I would do it. If they have already decided to let them go, I’d just ask them each their preference to play it out or not, and proceed accordingly. There’s no need for break-ups to be messy. It’s something for writers to write about, so they look for it to happen, but they are actually better suited by having the speculation to fuel for longer than to have a concrete fact to report one once.
  • You have the little matter of the last time you were in the Playoffs with a coach on the last year of his contract, the coach was let go. This has been noticed. You want to manage the message: manage it. Sure, it might cost you millions to pick up the option then let him go, and that’d be a PR hit, but what is stability going into Round 2 worth? What’s the message worth? After all the control exerted over how others present the message, after all the comments by players edited out of team media, it makes sense to control this.
  • Even if you want to change horses this offseason, you can. You can if a needle mover chooses New Orleans, you can if they botch the offseason, or you can just ride it out one more reason. Protect Round 2. The odds are you lose, but how you lose matters. A year of their salaries is worth it from where I sit, but it’s not my message and it’s not my money.
  • Announcing all of this will settle the media and fan chatter, or at least focus it, which you (talking to you, Pels rep reading this . . . hey!). Moreover, the announcement and introduction shows leadership in the Pelicans community, which the organization seems to aspire to be, in terms of getting some respect for the brass, including Gentry. I said it before with the radio, and this advice has been heeded ever since: You can’t expect the fans to respect your product more than you show you respect it. If you are committed to Gentry, go all in. I get that perhaps some feel it is a short-term net-positive to avoid potential boos and distraction, that you can say it keeps the focus on the players, but that’s just, as I said, short-term and short-sighted. If you respect the man, show it. Find a way to show it if Introductions is not the venue.

About the discussion:

  • For years, either just at the end of the season or throughout the season . . . such as, after most losses and after no wins . . . we see fans, media, and idiots with websites or logins predicting the firing of Gentry or Demps. Some advocate for it. Some of those offer unreasonable replacement suggestions, other offer none. They have been wrong each and every time with their predictions, largely because they have no idea what they are talking about.
    • I remember being accused (by an idiot without a website) of not having any sources and of no one having any source in the upper echelon of the organization. Both are false. Hence: idiot without a website. Idiots just assume everyone is as cutoff and stupid as they are. It’s not true. Look at the track record to see which is which, not how much someone says “lit” or talks in pictures or kisses media keester oh so softly and sweetly.
  • All contracts end, all lives end, change happens. Predicting that there will be change is pure emptiness. It is already known that the claim will eventually be true. Kudos for recognizing something extremely difficult for you to realize (it doesn’t matter that it is easy for others . . . good for YOU). However, it does not mean you’ve done anything specific to the subject matter, just notice some consequences of one-directional time and the second law of thermodynamics.
  • In a busier (and better) overall content marketplace, just beware those selling style without substance. They bristle and any real challenge on their content, because it’s hollow. It’s all image, illusion. There’s nothing solid. Echoing trends, then offering some softly contrarian opinion is good analysis. Contrarianism is adopted by these folks because it stirs up controversy, and they are often wrong, so that appears to be how the smart folks operate. In truth, if you are wrong all the time, the anything right appears contrarian . . . it’s just a conditioned response to tie the two together. At any rate, just try to discern what it is you are: a consumer of content or the product itself being delivered to some ad company.
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The Night the Pelicans Planted Their Flag http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/20/the-night-the-pelicans-planted-their-flag/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/20/the-night-the-pelicans-planted-their-flag/#comments Sat, 21 Apr 2018 01:17:13 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56691 April 19, 2018 – It is a date to never be forgotten in the cultural history of the great City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana and Gulf Coast region. The sixth seeded New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA’s Western Conference went from national media whipping post to precious darling seemingly overnight as they jumped out […]]]>

April 19, 2018 – It is a date to never be forgotten in the cultural history of the great City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana and Gulf Coast region.

The sixth seeded New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA’s Western Conference went from national media whipping post to precious darling seemingly overnight as they jumped out to a 2-0 series lead on the road against the No. 3 Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the playoffs. Pelican guard Jrue Holiday was named a “breakout star” for being the same guy he has been since January. While many saw the Pelicans as catching lightening in a bottle, the guys in the locker room saw themselves as just taking care of business.

Even as the Pels arrived back in New Orleans for Game 3, the first at home, there was still talk, or warnings even, that the mojo of Damian Lilliard and C.J. McCollum could still reveal itself.

The Pelicans, as a franchise have faced plenty of unwanted voodoo to overcome the elements and reach the moment they are in right now. Natural disasters, relocations, injuries to practically every key player and even deaths. So when the subject of voodoo was brought up by an adorable little doughnut shop visited by tourists in the Pacific Northwest, the Pelicans had no problem boomeranging that hex back in the other direction.

When the Pels traveled to Portland and put their feet up on the Blazers’ couch, people began to believe. But to truly ensure that this new direction wasn’t just a flash in the pan, the Pelicans planted their flag in the soil on April 19.

The 119-102 Pelican victory nearly felt like a 35-point victory before the reserve unit checked in. An alley-oop from Holiday to Anthony Davis at the 7:14 mark in the fourth quarter to go up 107-79 seemed to put the final nail in the coffin. As soon as the subs stepped on the floor, “Michael” Jordan Crawford launched up and sank a 3-pointer, much to the delight of a crowd that was loud, rowdy, drunk and ready to fight.

Don’t be confused. This isn’t the first time this franchise has experienced this type of atmosphere. In 2015, the Smoothie King Center was hyped the last time the team was in the postseason even though they never beat the Golden State Warriors a single time in that series. And we all know Chris Paul held the heart of the city during his runs with the team. Many of us are still haunted by a Game 7 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the 07-08 season.

However, something was different about April 19, 2018 in our current era led by once-in-a-lifetime talent Anthony Davis. For all of the criticisms, negativity and flat out irrational hate the New Orleans Pelicans receive, they seemed to conquer it all. The domination, the way they executed, was a message to the world that they are not a team to take lightly. Coach Alvin Gentry proved he’s in control. Assistant and defensive specialist Darren Erman was inside the Blazers’ heads. Rajon Rondo proved he is a leader and a positive energy producer. Nikola Mirotic proved letting him go is the Chicago Bulls’ biggest mistake. Darius Miller proved he belongs in the NBA. Davis and Holiday proved they were strong. They all proved they could still win without Demarcus Cousins, a top 15 league talent.

The Pelicans, a team no one wanted to be here, has forced you notice them.

The City of New Orleans loves them for it. It’s moments like these that give us inspiration. The games like these, being there with my wife and our friends, it’s creating memories for a lifetime. Give me all of the Mannie Fresh ft. Juvenile halftime shows. I’ll be here for it and New Orleans will too, and we’ll tell our kids about it too.

We are the lucky ones. We get to ask, “Where were you on April 19?”

 

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FILM REVIEW: Jrue Holiday dominates Game 2 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/19/film-review-jrue-holiday-dominates-game-2/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/19/film-review-jrue-holiday-dominates-game-2/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:06:52 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56686 Today I recap just what a truly amazing performance it was from Jrue Holiday in Game 2. Also, what might this mean moving forward? Be sure to subscribe to the channel for any new content being posted up.]]>

Today I recap just what a truly amazing performance it was from Jrue Holiday in Game 2. Also, what might this mean moving forward? Be sure to subscribe to the channel for any new content being posted up.

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Trail Blazers Game 2 Changes http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/17/trail-blazers-game-2-changes/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/17/trail-blazers-game-2-changes/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:01:10 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56675 What do you want to see more or less of in Game 2? 42: I want to see better rebounding. I have been beating the rebouding drum all season, but it really shows how important rebounding is against the Blazers who are both good it at and rely on it, especially when Lillard and McCollum […]]]>

What do you want to see more or less of in Game 2?

42: I want to see better rebounding. I have been beating the rebouding drum all season, but it really shows how important rebounding is against the Blazers who are both good it at and rely on it, especially when Lillard and McCollum are not at their best. I’d also like to see a little more Pelicans’ activity at the line, more Diallo, and less Nurkic. That might all go hand-in-hand-in-hand-in-hand.

Mason: I’ll give one answer for each. I want more of, well, Moore. The Pelicans’ starting wing played by far the fewest minutes of any of the starters, despite the relative ineffectiveness of Miller and Hill. While Moore did have a couple of lapses in the 4th, I do not think he should have been on the bench for the final ~6 minutes of the fourth quarter. He did a great job of covering McCollum throughout the game (as Zach Lowe also noted this morning) while Jrue handled Lillard, and also has the size to better handle switches out of pick and rolls. Which brings me to what I want to see less of – Rondo/Clark back courts. These lineups got blitzed in Game 1, as the Pelicans were outscored by 18 points in 16(!) minutes. That is the most that those two have played together in a single game all year long, and they were the worst 2-man combo out of the 42 different pairings who played at least 250 minutes together for the Pelicans this season. They’re just too undersized on defense and on the glass, and that’s before you consider the fact that Jrue is sometimes also in those lineups (the Rondo-Clark-Jrue 3-man group was -8 in 7 minutes). If Gentry adjusts his rotations and gives Moore a few more of Rondo’s minutes (39 is a lot for him), they should be in good shape.

Michael Pellissier: I want to see more of how the Pelicans defended the Trail Blazers last game.  Lillard was quiet throughout most of the game because the Pelicans were swarming him with defenders and forcing him to give up the ball to his teammates.  So much of Portland’s offensive success comes from Lillard/CJ, and the Pelicans forced it out of the hands of those guys in the halfcourt setting.  It was an awesome strategy, but it is far harder to do after turnovers, and that burned the Pelicans in the 4th quarter last game.

Portland hammered us on the boards, generating opportunity after opportunity, but I think it was a necessary result of this strategy. You have to give up something, and the Pelicans flooded Lillard/CJ with attention, leaving 1 v 1s on the defensive boards vs a bigger Portland frontcourt.  A shift in focus to shore up the rebounding and you’re likely leaving these guys with more space.  I don’t love giving them second chance opportunities, but I think it might be necessary.  I’m interested to see how Portland changes their offense given the Pelicans’ strategy last game.

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Reactions to Game 1 v Trail Blazers http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/16/reactions-to-game-1-v-trail-blazers/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/16/reactions-to-game-1-v-trail-blazers/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 14:54:49 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56672 What is your reaction to Game 1? Mason: Incredibly fired up. The Pelicans played three consistent, solid quarters, which gave them just enough buffer to withstand a predictable home team 4th quarter surge. AD and Jrue were everything we expected them to be, Niko and Rondo shined in their Pelicans playoff debuts, and the team […]]]>

What is your reaction to Game 1?

Mason: Incredibly fired up. The Pelicans played three consistent, solid quarters, which gave them just enough buffer to withstand a predictable home team 4th quarter surge. AD and Jrue were everything we expected them to be, Niko and Rondo shined in their Pelicans playoff debuts, and the team as a whole played mostly beautifully on the defensive end. There are still concerns – defensive rebounding and the crunch time lineup are my two biggest ones – but for now, we can simply appreciate a huge playoff road victory and stealing home court advantage from the Blazers.

42: I wish I could be as excited as everyone else. I’m not because I feel like them winning is the most liekly outcome. Sure, I’m enjoying it. I was pleased with the big lead, expected a run, and satisfied that they never relinquished the lead. The offensive ineptitude that let the Blazers back in is, frankly, not something that is going to go away, but the defensive prowess that kept them in it is actually the most encouraging thing. They truly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Without Boogie. Portland: Watch it. NBA: You’re on notice.

Dru: I was very proud of this team. They started the game slow and could have easily folded in on themselves, but they stuck to their gameplan even when things weren’t working out and Portland runs happened. Obviously, Jrue and AD were great but Rondo did a good job of making sure the Pels control the tempo and Niko showed every aspect of his game and didn’t just become a spot up shooter.

Kumar: Adrenaline is coursing through my veins. It’s incredibly gratifying to see a playoff victory, especially on the road. I’m really proud of the team. Before the game, I tweeted that the Pelicans would trap Lillard and McCollum at every opportunity and let Nurkic try to make plays in the short roll. For large portions of the game, the Pelicans did exactly that. The downside of this strategy is that it can leave you vulnerable to offensive rebounds. The Pelicans did a tremendous job defensively, but giving up 6 offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter allowed Portland to make the game close. The Pelicans will have to continue to tweak their strategies and look for a way to fend off Ed Davis and Jusuf Nurkic from the offensive glass.

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FILM REVIEW: Blazers vs. Pelicans – Game 1 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/16/film-review-blazers-vs-pelicans-game-1/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/16/film-review-blazers-vs-pelicans-game-1/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 14:22:30 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56668 James Grayson has created a great breakdown of what the Pels did to secure their win in their first matchup against the Trailblazers. What did Jrue & the team do to lock up Dame How did Portland get their offensive rebounds How Portland made their comeback What the Pels need to continue to do to […]]]>

James Grayson has created a great breakdown of what the Pels did to secure their win in their first matchup against the Trailblazers.

  • What did Jrue & the team do to lock up Dame
  • How did Portland get their offensive rebounds
  • How Portland made their comeback
  • What the Pels need to continue to do to win the series

 

Be sure to like and sub to James’ youtube channel for alerts as soon as his videos are released.

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Round 1 Predictions http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/14/round-1-predictions/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/14/round-1-predictions/#respond Sun, 15 Apr 2018 00:00:22 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56665 How does this series go? 42: Pelicans in 7 is my prediction. Following that are Pelicans in 6 and Trail Blazers in 7. I think Jrue has a couple good defensive games and he makes the difference, a couple games where Davis looks like a man who really hates sandals with socks. Levy: I predict […]]]>

How does this series go?

42: Pelicans in 7 is my prediction. Following that are Pelicans in 6 and Trail Blazers in 7. I think Jrue has a couple good defensive games and he makes the difference, a couple games where Davis looks like a man who really hates sandals with socks.

Levy: I predict Pelicans win in 6. Solomon Hill and Mirotic will be big factors on defense. Who knows, it even looks like “playoff Rondo” is a real thing as of late. Lol.

James Grayson: Blazers in 6 or 7. I think that Portland, with their home-court advantage, along with their role players will be too much. I think that Terry Stotts’ defensive scheme is also conduit for slowing down the Pelicans (he tries to force teams to take long-twos). I do hope I’m wrong though and New Orleans wins.

Mason Ginsberg: If I had to pick one series outcome, I would go with Blazers in 7. That being said, I think it’s as close to a coin flip as we could get, but I cannot bring myself to pick against Damian Lillard in a Game 7 at home. If the Pels are going to win this series, they need to do it in 6 games. The defense of the Pelicans’ guards will dictate this series, in my opinion. I believe in Playoff Rondo, but if he lets CJ or Dame run circles around him, I would not be shocked to see Moore get heavier minutes at the 2-guard spot than he saw throughout the season with a combo of Miller/Hill filling in at the 3. Another intriguing option: putting Rondo on Turner, and daring him to beat you.

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Keys to Round 1 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/13/keys-to-round-1/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/13/keys-to-round-1/#respond Fri, 13 Apr 2018 16:00:56 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56662 What is “a” or “the” key to the series with the Trail Blazers? What is something else to keep an eye on that might be under-discussed? 42: I think the key to the series is rendering Nurkic ineffective. Whether this is Davis or Mirotic just outplaying him on both ends, whoever frustrating him, putting him […]]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the NO Pod Ep. 310: Portland Preview http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/12/in-the-no-pod-ep-310-portland-preview/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/12/in-the-no-pod-ep-310-portland-preview/#respond Fri, 13 Apr 2018 04:32:41 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56660 Michael and I talk briefly about the Spurs game, and then give a lot of time to Portland! We talk about weaknesses, strengths, X-Factors, defensive schemes, and best players on the court. I ask three burning questions about hiding on Rondo, the all important turnover battle, and baiting the Pels into three point shooting. And […]]]>

Michael and I talk briefly about the Spurs game, and then give a lot of time to Portland! We talk about weaknesses, strengths, X-Factors, defensive schemes, and best players on the court. I ask three burning questions about hiding on Rondo, the all important turnover battle, and baiting the Pels into three point shooting.

And we make our predictions.

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Jrue Holiday 2018 Defensive Highlights http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/11/jrue-holiday-2018-defensive-highlights/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/11/jrue-holiday-2018-defensive-highlights/#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2018 21:35:27 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56656 Jrue deserves to be First Team All Defense this year. The Pelicans are a whopping 9.2 points per 100 possessions better with Jrue on the court – this surpasses DPOY candidates like Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert Jrue leads the league in blocked shots for a guard 6’4″ and under How good has Jrue been […]]]>

Jrue deserves to be First Team All Defense this year.

  • The Pelicans are a whopping 9.2 points per 100 possessions better with Jrue on the court – this surpasses DPOY candidates like Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert
  • Jrue leads the league in blocked shots for a guard 6’4″ and under
  • How good has Jrue been at the point of attack? When Jrue sits, Pels opponents attack the rim on 38.1% of their possessions, 2nd worst in the league. When Jrue plays, opponents only attack the rim on 32.7% of their possessions. The 5.4% difference puts him in the 96th percentile.For reference, Rudy Gobert is in the 97th percentile, as Jazz opponents attack the rim a full 6% less with him on the court. Who says guard defense isn’t important?
    Holiday is having the effect of an elite rim protector in deterring drives to the rim.

This highlight reel is the rest of my case. Enjoy.

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A Different Look at the Remaining Schedule, Part 9 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/11/a-different-look-at-the-remaining-schedule-part-9/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/11/a-different-look-at-the-remaining-schedule-part-9/#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2018 17:11:07 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56646 The New Orleans Pelicans are in the Playoffs (congratulations), and there is not much to the remaining schedule. Graphics and such are out there, but I’m going to wrap this series up by laying out the 16 cases (4 remaining important games), at least enough to see how it plays out for the Pelicans and […]]]>

The New Orleans Pelicans are in the Playoffs (congratulations), and there is not much to the remaining schedule. Graphics and such are out there, but I’m going to wrap this series up by laying out the 16 cases (4 remaining important games), at least enough to see how it plays out for the Pelicans and with the details as to why. Also, some of those have needed revision, etc., but we’ve stayed consistent here.

Some quick results:

  • At 47 wins (lose to Spurs), the Pelicans have the 7-seed or 8-seed and play the Warriors or Rockets accordingly, with the Rockets being more likely.
    • 7th seed, play the Warriors, driven by Thunder loss
    • 8th seed, play the Rockets, driven by Thunder victory
  • At 48 wins (win over Spurs), the Pelicans can get the 5-seed or 6-seed and play the Jazz or Trail Blazers, Trail Blazers being more likely.
    • 5th seed, play the Trail Blazers, driven by Trail Blazers loss, Rockets’ side of Western Conference Playoff bracket
    • 5th seed, play the Jazz, driven by Trail Blazers victory and Thunder loss, Rockets’ side of Western Conference Playoff bracket
    • 6th seed, play the Trail Blazers, driven by Trail Blazers victory and Thunder victory, Warriors’ side of Western Conference Playoff bracket
  • Head-to-head determines home court for equal-record teams, so Pelicans would have home court if they faced the Thunder in the Conference Finals as a 4-seed and 6-seed, which is highly unlikely.

Remaining Games

In the West, 7 teams still have not settled into their Playoff seeding (or eligibility). There are 4 games remaining involving those teams. Only the Thunder play an “outsider” team, the Grizzlies.

  • Spurs @ Pelicans
  • Nuggets @ Timberwolves
  • Grizzlies @ Thunder
  • Jazz @ Trail Blazers

47 Win Scenario Details

If the Pelicans lose to the Spurs, they end up with 47 wins. They will finish with a better record than the loser of the Nuggets and Timberwolves, a worse record than the Jazz, Spurs, and Trail Blazers, can do no better than the 7-seed once tie-breakers are considered.

Let’s see how these cases break out.

  • It is impossible for a team to be in sole possession of 47 wins.
  • If there is a two-way tie, it is with the winner of the Nuggets and Timberwolves. The Pelicans get the 8-seed, play the Rockets.
  • If there is a three-way tie, it is with the Thunder and winner of Nuggets and Timberwolves, the Pelicans get the 7-seed and play the Warriors This requires the Thunder to lose to the Grizzlies.

In this case, the Pelicans have the 8-seed and play the Rockets unless they end up tying with the Thunder and the winner of the Nuggets and Timberwolves game, in which case they get the 7-seed and play the Warriors.

48 Win Scenario Details

If the Pelicans beat the Spurs, they end up with 48 wins. They will finish with a better record than the Nuggets, Spurs, and Timberwolves, so they can do no worse than the 6-seed, but they can not get the 3-seed or 4-seed due to tie-breakers, Jazz and Trail Blazers playing each other.

Let’s see how these cases break out.

  • If there is a two-way tie, it is with the Trail Blazers or Jazz, and the Pelicans are the 5-seed playing the 4-seed team they tied with, which is the loser between the Jazz and the Trail Blazers. This outcome puts them in the Rockets’ side of the Western Conference bracket.
  • If there is a three-way tie, it is with the Jazz and Thunder, the Pelicans get the 6-seed, play the Trail Blazers and are in the Warriors’ side of the Western Conference bracket; or, it is with the Thunder and Trail Blazers, the Pelicans get the 5-seed, play the Trail Blazers, and are in the Rockets’ side of the Western Conference Playoff Bracket. In any case, it is the Trail Blazers, just as the 5-seed or 6-seed.
  • Head-to-head determines home court for equal-record teams, so Pelicans would have home court if they faced the Thunder at some point, which is unlikely, even if they are the 4-seed and 6-seed.

In this case, the play the Trail Blazers unless both the Thunder and Jazz lose, then they play the Jazz. The details can affect if they are in the Warriors’ side or the Rockets’ side of the Western Conference Playoff bracket.

My preference is to win. I would rather deal with Trail Blazers fans and defeat that team for other reasons, so I prefer that. I think that’s the highest chance for victory, but I have the idea that you have to take all challenges. So, bring them all on.

Play well.

Enjoy.

Boogie.

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A Different Look at the Remaining Schedule, Part 8 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/10/a-different-look-at-the-remaining-schedule-part-8/ http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2018/04/10/a-different-look-at-the-remaining-schedule-part-8/#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 07:58:53 +0000 http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56639 The New Orleans Pelicans are in the Playoffs (congratulations), and there is not much to the remaining schedule. I’m going to leave much of the work to the world, but I’m going to wrap this series up by laying out the 32 cases (5 remaining important games), at least enough to see how it plays […]]]>

The New Orleans Pelicans are in the Playoffs (congratulations), and there is not much to the remaining schedule. I’m going to leave much of the work to the world, but I’m going to wrap this series up by laying out the 32 cases (5 remaining important games), at least enough to see how it plays out for the Pelicans.

Some quick results:

  • At 47 wins, the Pelicans have the 8-seed and play the Rockets, unless they end up in a three-way tie with the Thunder and the winner of the Nuggets and Timberwolves, in which case they get the 7-seed and play the Warriors.
  • At 48 wins, the Pelicans can get the 4-seed, 5-seed, or 6-seed and play the Jazz, Nuggets, Thunder, Timberwolves, or Trail Blazers. They can not play the Spurs in the post-season.
    • The Jazz winning a game eliminates the possibility of the 4-seed, and with it the chances of playing the Nuggets and of playing the Timberwolves and of playing the Thunder in the post-season.
    • The only way to play the Jazz is to be the only teams with 48 wins.
  • The Pelicans are shut out of the 3-seed.

Remaining Games

In the West, 7 teams still have not settled into their Playoff seeding (or eligibility). There are 5 games remaining involving those teams. The Jazz play Tuesday against the Warriors, then they all play Wednesday, with only the Thunder playing an “outsider” team that last night, the Grizzlies. Each team has just 1 game remaining, except the Jazz who play 2.

  • Tuesday
    • Warriors @ Jazz
  • Wednesday
    • Spurs @ Pelicans
    • Nuggets @ Timberwolves
    • Grizzlies @ Thunder
    • Jazz @ Trail Blazers

47 Win Scenarios

If the Pelicans lose to the Spurs, they end up with 47 wins. They will finish with a better record than the loser of the Nuggets and Timberwolves, a worse record than the Trail Blazers and Spurs and can do no better than the 7-seed once tie-breakers are considered.

Let’s see how these cases break out.

  • It is impossible for a team to be in sole possession of 47 wins.
  • If there is a two-way tie, it is with the winner of the Nuggets and Timberwolves. The Pelicans get the 8-seed, play the Rockets.
  • If there is a three-way tie, it is with the Jazz and the winner of Nuggets and Timberwolves, the Pelicans get the 8-seed and play the Rockets; or, it is with the Thunder and winner of Nuggets and Timberwolves, the Pelicans get the 7-seed and play the Warriors.
  • If there is a four-way tie, it is with the Jazz, Thunder, and the winner of the Nuggets and Timberwolves. The Pelicans get the 8-seed and play the Rockets.

In this case, the Pelicans have the 8-seed and play the Rockets unless they end up tying with the Thunder and the winner of the Nuggets and Timberwolves game, in which case they get the 7-seed and play the Warriors.

48 Win Scenarios

If the Pelicans beat the Spurs, they end up with 48 wins. They will finish with a better record than the Nuggets, Spurs, and Timberwolves, so they can do no worse than the 6-seed, but they can not get the 3-seed due to tie-breakers.

Let’s see how these cases break out.

  • If they are the lone team with 48 wins, they have the 4-seed and play the winner of the 4-way tie-breakers at 47 wins between the winner of Nuggets-Timberwolves, Jazz, Spurs, and Thunder, which is the winner of Nuggets-Timberwolves. The Jazz winning a game eliminates this chance.
  • If there is a two-way tie, it is either with the Thunder, the Pelicans are the 4-seed and the Thunder are the 5-seed; or, it is with the Trail Blazers or Jazz, and the Pelicans are the 5-seed playing the 4-seed team they tied with. The Jazz winning a game eliminates the chances of playing the Thunder.
  • If there is a three-way tie, it is with the Jazz and Thunder, the Pelicans get the 6-seed and play the Trail Blazers; or, it is with the Jazz and Trail Blazers, the Pelicans get the 5 seed and the play Trail Blazers; or, it is with the Thunder and Trail Blazers, the Pelicans get the 5-seed and play the Trail Blazers. In any case, it is the Trail Blazers, just as the 5-seed or 6-seed.
  • If there is a 4-way tie, it is with the Jazz, Thunder, and Trail Blazers. The Pelicans would be the 5-seed and play the Trail Blazers.

The Pelicans can not get the 3-seed, and they can only get the 6-seed if they tie with the Jazz and Thunder, and they end up playing the Trail Blazers. If they get the 4-seed, they can host the Nuggets, Timberwolves, or Thunder. If they are the 5-seed, the play the Trail Blazers. The only way to play the Jazz is to be the only teams with 48 wins.

The outcome of the Jazz game can clarify some of this, and I may post a slight update tomorrow.

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