A Test for the Pelicans

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Published: April 25, 2015

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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