Game On: Warriors v. Pelicans Game 3

Published: April 23, 2015

“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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