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New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors Game 1 Preview

Is it as simple as who wants it more? ... I wish!

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans facing the Warriors in the Oracle will be just the second game of the 2015 NBA playoffs schedule but the first one to air on ABC. Around 48 hours ago, even the most ardent fans had trouble tasting the playoffs on their palates. Now, everyone is scrambling in making plans to ensure their availability for every game, all starting with Saturday's tip at 2:30 PM local time.

(As a side note, does anyone have a clue the last time a New Orleans game aired on ABC?)

The staff at The Bird Writes has done a wonderful job already in covering a lot of bases before the game tomorrow. If haven't perused all of the articles yet, I implore you to do so immediately.

In addition, don't forget to stop by Golden State Of Mind to get our friends' perspective on this upcoming series.

The same principles will apply in the postseason as they did in the 82 game schedule that just wrapped up, but everything will be magnified. Sure, teams still need to make shots, play with confidence and above all else, need to give it their all. However, the intensity, focus and effort all need to be elevated throughout every minute of the basketball games.

As to where regular season games can sometimes feel like players are coasting and teams only seek to step up their play in either the first or last five minutes of either half, postseason play demands playing and staying at peak levels for the entire 48 minutes.

Okay, enough of the pep talk, let's get to the keys to the game.

Keys to Victory

  1. A fast start in the first AND third quarters. The atmosphere in the Oracle is going to be so charged that the last thing the Pelicans can afford is giving the crowd something to explode about from the tip or out of halftime. Loud playoff crowds can help the home team from losing the momentum by keeping them on their "high." Studies have proven raucous masses can have an influence on the subjective calls of referees. No team knows the effect of the crowd in Oakland better than the 2007 Dallas Mavericks. By the looks of it, the Pelicans don't want to face a #FlameOn horde.
  2. Anthony Davis Minutes Galore. Everyone is aware of how much of a difference maker Davis can be on the floor. Well, it also pertained to the best team during the regular season. This statistic shouldn't be all that surprising. AD just finished a season in which he posted a PER of nearly 31. Only three, count them THREE, players have had better seasons according to this metric: Wilt Chamberlain, Lebron James and Michael Jordan. The postseason is the time Monty Williams needs to ride his 22 year-old stallion. Thanks to no more back-to-backs, he'll get plenty of rest in between games. New Orleans NEEDS "let em have it" AD on the floor as much as possible. Period.
  3. Win the effective possessions game. The Warriors were the best shooting team in NBA based on all the following metrics: FG%, eFG%, TS%. They were even stronger at home. So, the chances of out-shooting them or hoping for an off night are incredibly rare. Thus, common sense dictates their number of made field goals will be lower if the attempts are reduced. During the 2014-15 season, the Warriors had a record of 6-11 when the opposition finished with more made field goals. The Pelicans have to find a way to force turnovers, limit them to one shot and then protect the ball themselves. In essence, New Orleans needs to monopolize effective possessions. This was precisely how the Spurs handed the Warriors just one of their two losses at home on the season.
  4. Don't let the role players beat you. Stephen Curry isn't going to have an off game. Klay Thompson probably won't either. Thus, it's vital to make sure nobody else adds a significant chunk to the pie. Draymond Green can't be allowed the opportunity to make multiple threes. Marreese Speights can't come off the bench and pour in double digits in his limited minutes. Harrison Barnes nor Andre Iguodala can't be allowed to get into the flow of the game and made to feel relevant and effective. Turning as many Warriors into spectators as possible outside of the Splash Brothers will be key.

No one in the world expects New Orleans to beat the Warriors in a best of 7 game series. At least no one who is willing to wager serious, hard-earned money. Consequently, there shouldn't be any pressure on the shoulders of the Pelicans. Oh, I'm sure there will be some butterflies, especially by the players appearing in their first postseason (Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Davis), but they should be able to quickly overcome it. After that, they need to play free and let their instincts take over. Rely on everything learned in all their improbable wins, especially the Spurs and Warriors earlier this month.

Above all, no matter the outcome, in victory or defeat, my hope is that fans remain stolid in their support of their team throughout this series. The Pelicans have achieved so much this season that now isn't the time to get down on them, collectively or individually, for having an off night(s). To steal a phrase from David, we're playing with house money. We all desperately want to see triumph, but I hope we won't be dismayed by defeat.

Geaux Pelicans!!!