1) Predict the series W/L record (IE. which games will the Pels win, if any) and why?
Nico Bagio: 4-2 Warriors. The first 4 games will be split in some way (probably with the home teams holding serve). Then GSW will turn on the jets and win Game 5 (at home) and 6 (away).
Chris Cucchiara: I really want to say 4-2 Warriors, but I think it will be over in 5. GSW is just too good at home, so I do not see the Pelicans taking a game there.
Jamile Dunn: 4-2 Warriors. (Unpopular opinion alert!) I have the Pelicans winning Game 1 and the Warriors winning game 2 at home and Game 3 in New Orleans. The Pels will tie it up in Game 4 at home before the Warriors pull away in Games 5 and 6. This prediction is probably more optimistic than most, but the Pels are good at taking away a lot of things the Warriors do well (i.e. three point shooting). In the end, Golden State is the better team (for now), but I think the Pels will be much feistier than most people think.
David Fisher: This series feels like a gentlemen's sweep, 4-1 Golden State. The Pelicans win Game 4 to a avoid an actual sweep. I'd love it if they won Game 3, but that 8:30 PM local start time...
Kyle Gahagan: 4-2 Pelicans. Pels take Games 1, 3, 4, 6. No one for the Warriors can guard Anthony Davis, and he'll be able to dominate on both ends. Recent returnees Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson will be big contributors: Jrue on defense and Ryno with his perimeter shooting.
Zachary Junda: Dubs in five. The series will come to New Orleans with Golden State up 2-0 because the Pelicans are not walking out of that mad house that is the Oracle with a win. The Pelicans draw a small amount of blood in Game 3 before the Warriors Mortal Kombat FINISH HIM in Oakland in Game 5.
Oleh Kosel: 4-2 Warriors with the Pelicans winning Games 2 and 4. New Orleans has enough talent on this team to take two games from even the best team in the NBA so I believe they'll show up and stun the world twice.
Matthew Robinson: 4-1 Warriors. Game 1 will be fairly close, but Golden State will pull away in the fourth quarter; Game 2 is a blowout by Golden State; Game 3 sees the Pelicans storm back, motivated after a drubbing; Game 4 involves the Pels losing a heart breaker on their home court; and then Golden State will be en fuego in Game 5.
2) Which Pelican(s) must play well in order for the team to have a chance to win any given game?
Nico Bagio: Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. Offensively, I honestly believe we can go toe-to-toe with the Warriors. It's on the defensive side where we'll be at risk. Jrue & EJ's defense -- both wildly underrated at this point -- will be key. Their isolation & spot-up numbers are good, not elite, but you watch them play and you know they have the chops to at least make Curry & Thompson, the wheels of GS offense, work for their shots.
Chris Cucchiara: If Ryan Anderson can catch fire for a few games, he could really become the ultimate X-factor. The space he is able to create for others when his shot is falling would generate a huge advantage for the Pelicans.
Jamile Dunn: Jrue Holiday. To slay a giant you have to cut off it's head. Stephen Curry is the catalyst for everything the Warriors do offensively. If Holiday can slow Curry down, even if its just in spurts, the Pelicans will have a fighting chance. A slowed down Curry makes the Warriors beatable.
David Fisher: Ryan Anderson. The Warriors are going to go small and Monty is going to have to match them or see Omer Asik guarding Draymond Green. Can Anderson dial it in?
Kyle Gahagan: Jrue Holiday's defense will be crucial if matched up against Stephen Curry. Jrue has the speed and length to slow down the expected MVP. Also, Tyreke Evans will need to maintain his bullish mentality, drawing unnecessary fouls from various Warriors rather than shying away from contact.
Zachary Junda: Ryan Anderson. Anderson needs to hit his outside shots; otherwise, the Pelicans will be playing 4-on-5 on both ends of the court while he's out there.
Oleh Kosel: It's close between Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson, but Evans gets the nod. The discrepancy in his numbers between the wins and losses this season is staggering across the board. In Pelicans' wins he averaged: 17.7 PPG, 7.7 AST, 2.9 TOV with a shooting line of 48.4 FG% / 38.0 3FG% / 70.7 FT%. In the losses: 15.3 PPG, 5.3 AST, 3.4 TOV with a shooting line of 40.4 FG% / 23.5 3FG% / 67.7 FT%.
Matthew Robinson: I think 4 of the Core 6 (Jrue, Tyreke, Gordon, AD, Asik and Anderson) will have to play extremely well at a minimum, and if I had to highlight any of them, it would be Davis and Holiday. I feel Jrue has to have the series of his life. His defense is essential, and his ability on offense can cause Golden State problems. Davis is Davis. He’s the star of the team, will have to carry this team plenty of times and look to take advantage of mismatches at every turn.
3) How should the Pelicans attempt to slow down the Splash Brothers?
Nico Bagio: You can't stop Curry. You just can't. His pull-up game is eons above anyone else's (can you believe he makes more pull-up shots than spot-up ones?) Thompson, on the other hand, is an easier guard. Thompson feeds off his three-point shooting and there are ways to stop him from getting clean looks. If the Pelicans can reduce his perimeter effectiveness (NOP has been good at this since Jan 12th), they have a puncher's chance at stealing games.
Chris Cucchiara: Jrue and Eric need to step up their games and make the other guys beat the Pelicans. Easier said than done, but lots of switching and smart contests will be key.
Jamile Dunn: Well, very few NBA coaches or players have been able to answer that question so i'm not sure i'll be much better, but i'll give it a shot. First you've got to play solid transition defense. The Splash Brothers kill opponents with transition threes. If the Pelicans can limit these momentum-shifting plays, they should be able to at least keep games close. Second, the Pelicans' defense must force them to shoot two pointers off the dribble. Basically i'm saying close out hard on them but not allow them to get all the way to the rim. Obviously that doesn't guarantee anything, these guys can flat out shoot, but at least their percentages come down slightly when forced to shoot on the go. Finally, move the orange on offense. Force them to expend large quantities of energy on defense and take the ball out of the net. Pretty easy I think (that's sarcasm twitter).
David Fisher: Beyond horrific acts of violence? The intensity we saw on Wednesday was playoff caliber. The defense the Pelicans ran was "let Parker beat us." That is a poor choice against Chef Curry. Now, about that violence.
Kyle Gahagan: If you can't beat them, join them. Match the Splash Brothers' production with the Crescent City Quadruplets: Ryan Anderson (122 3 pts made), Eric Gordon (141), Quincy Pondexter (74), and Tyreke Evans (69), and open up the storm drains. If not, Steph is just too good and will get his points. Klay is far more defensible, as a set shot specialist -- keep him off his mark.
Zachary Junda: Hire Tanya Harding's old crew to take a pipe to their legs? That's all I've got.
Oleh Kosel: Monty Williams needs to trust the assigned individual defenders and for the rest of the team to nail their help and rotations. However, going beyond that (ie. doubles, switches) will cause too many breakdowns and bring the rest of the Warriors squad into play for notable games. The Splash Brothers are going to get theirs, but please don't give an opportunity for the rest of GSW to make significant contributions.
Matthew Robinson: I don’t think there’s a solution for stopping them. The only thing a team can do is to try to slow them down, but slowing both down in one game seems next to impossible. Jrue will have to be at his best against Curry, giving him nothing easy (even though Curry can make the hardest shots look easy). Gordon is going to have to try and run Klay off the three-point line and rely on help from Asik or Davis.