Two games in how have the Pelicans done relative to your expectations?
Kevin Barrios: It's been pretty close to what I expected. I knew we'd start a little shell-shocked in the first game, but I didn't expect us to lay that much of an egg in the first quarter of that. However, I knew we'd put up a fight before finally being over matched. We are facing a truly great team and though I'm not much on moral victories, I'm just happy to be in every game.
Isaac Constans: The Pelicans have met my expectations so far, and I set the bar pretty high. As I said in an article, people who thought winning one of the opening two at Oracle was a must had not done their homework. The Pelicans made the Warriors sweat, and coming back home (where they were 28-13 this year), they can play with a lot of confidence and a lot of energy.
Chris Cucchiara: I have to say, I wasn't really worried after the first game. The guys were just a little tight, as evidenced by several shots that barely grazed the rim in the first quarter. When you take everything into consideration, best team, toughest arena to play in, no Jrue in Game 2, injured Tyreke.....they have played really well
Jamile Dunn: They have actually performed about as well as I expected. They have acquitted themselves nicely against the top team in the league and the hardest home court to win on in the Association. Unfortunately we'll never know what a healthy version of the 2014-2015 team would have done in this spot but on balance i'm happy with the effort in a series where the Pels are so clearly over-matched.
David Fisher: Far exceeded my expectations. The first three quarters were on par with what I envisioned on the road for an inexperienced team. The fourth in game one was a bit of a surprise; the Warriors are known to give back big leads late, but to do so while Stephen Curry played nearly 10 minutes? Game two amazed me. I didn't think the Pelicans would play so well for 44 minutes; I thought Golden State would adjust and crush the Pels out of the gate to send a message.
Kyle Gahagan: Two games into the series, the Pelicans have played as good, if not better, than expected. However, the injury bug is still plaguing them more than ever. Tyreke is hobbled, Jrue missed game 2, and Ryno clearly isn't himself yet. I was expecting a 1-1 split, but the 0-2 hole doesn't feel as bad as i'd thought it would, considering the circumstances.
Oleh Kosel: They've exceeded them. The Pelicans could have very well folded up in Game 1 after the horrendous start and due to the fact they lost Tyreke Evans, but they didn't. They carried over that momentum into Game 2, and along with some coaching adjustments, gave the Warriors everything they could handle in the Oracle for 44 minutes.
When Anthony Davis got rolling in the fourth quarter of game one what was your big picture response?
Kevin: It was a defining moment. It was one of the great fourth quarters in playoff history. Unfortunately in came in a loss so it won't be remembered by the rest of the NBA world for long. However, it was such an incredible playoff debut, it'll live on in New Orleans lore for a very long time.
Isaac: I knew Draymond wasn't THAT good of a defender. Initially, I thought Davis was nervous, but he rubbished those thoughts with his fourth quarter performance. That quarter set the stage for what we have all been waiting for all season, an Anthony Davis takeover. Last game he played 45 minutes, and this game he'll get even more touches.
Chris: His performance is what I expect out of a superstar. It also made me believe that he had the confidence that he could successfully attack the best defense in the league.
Jamile: That's just AD. I think in the future we'll be treated to crunch time performances like that on a regular basis. Despite all the belly aching we hear from people who think AD should shoot more the truth is that as incredible as Davis is he is not yet at a level where he can consistently take over a game much less a series. The "God Mode" AD is coming, maybe as soon as next year, but at this point he still needs a little more polish to consistently get the type of performances we saw in game one.
David: There we go, that's the AD we have come to know. Davis made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes early in the game and in the fourth he was determined to go quickly and attack. He has become so adept at finishing those floaters and awkward layups that I am more surprised when they don't go in.
Kyle: Big picture, keep AD away from Draymond Green as much as possible and he'll do fine--then give him the off season to find a way to excel against guys like Draymond. Plus, you could tell he was gassed, and maybe the pressure, combined with apparent availability to steal one in Oakland, got to him. Finally, more than a few of his shots were very highly questionable.
What are your expectations for game three? Is a win in the cards?
Kevin: The Warriors are too talented, well coached and deep for us to realistically win this series, but you have to hope we can stretch them out a little bit. I expect us to get this game at home with a sellout crowd aiding in every possible way. If our guard rotation is healthy we should pull this one out. However, this may be the only one we squeak out
Isaac: The Pelicans are so much better at home and the Warriors are really good away, but not great. The Pels should walk with some swagger in their step after two good performances and the knowledge that this is a well-matched, open series. Going back home, I'm predicting a big game for Tyreke, EG, and AD, and a higher-scoring win for the Pels, 110-106.
Chris: The fans at the SKC will bring it hard on Thursday. I will be disappointed if the Pels do not come out of that game victorious.
Jamile: I think NOLA gets game 3. They were tantalizingly close at times in game 2. Hopefully Tyreke will feel a little better and I've still got my fingers crossed for 15 or so Jrue Holiday minutes. Despite the two losses I think the Pels confidence is actually pretty high right now and they're role players traditionally play better at home. Now I also predicted that the Pels would win game 1 so you probably shouldn't take this to your bookie.
David: Torn on this one. On one hand, I expect the Blender to be rockin' even with the late start. The Pelicans have played well when the crowd is going full tilt, look no further than the Spurs game to get into the playoffs. New Orleans shooters have done much better at home, specifically Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson. I still believe Anderson is capable of a big game or two in this series; injuries have sapped him of consistency. On the other hand, the Warriors know all this and should be in seek-and-destroy mode.
Kyle: I expect to win Game 3 more so than any of the other two so far. With the outlook on Jrue Holiday positive, we'll have our floor general back on the court to slow things down. Plus, that home crowd should be able to draw from the last time they saw their squad live. Shout out to the Spurs.
Oleh: Put me in the believers group -- a win! Unless Golden State makes a slew of ridiculously tough shots (and yes they're capable), I think the Pelicans as a group will be more focused and execution of the offense will be stronger thanks to the support from the Smoothie King Center faithful.
What one change would you make strategically at this point?
Kevin: I'd sit Ryan Anderson. He's lost his shot and bogs down the offense. He takes bad shots, doesn't move the ball and is a defensive liability. I have to credit Monty for making that adjustment in game two and keeping him on the bench down the stretch, but I'd rather see us give more minutes to Ajinca and Cunningham and maybe even give Babbitt a go if outside shooting is needed.
Isaac: Pondexter has been guarding Curry and doing his job. Gordon has been guarding Thompson and doing his job. So what isn't working? The Pelicans are simply allowing the GS bench and starters to get too many fast break and second chance threes. That's where Curry and Thompson are getting their points. Any team will have their share of "effort points", but the Warriors had 11 fast break points in the first five minutes of last game, an expected amount for a game. For the Pels, it's time to go small, and limit fast break points. Bogut has been dominating, so try Davis on him and somebody like Cunningham on Green.
Chris: More AD at the 5 with a smaller lineup all the way around. Asik is the odd man out here. Also, maybe try Babbitt as a poor man's Ryno and tell Gordon if he dribbles more than twince in a possession, he will be benched! (I kid, not really)
Jamile: People will probably disagree but I think I would give Alexis Ajinca a few more minutes in certain spots. While the Warriors still respect Ryan Anderson he's simply not been all that effective. I'd prefer giving Ajinca a few more ticks with the second unit. The Pels go through stretches where they can't buy a bucket and with Tyreke laboring the team often settles for some kind of jumper. Ajinca has the size advantage on the Warriors reserve bigs and could buy them a few easy baskets inside.
David: If Anderson still doesn't have it I wouldn't mind Luke Babbitt getting a little run. Some funky lineup of Cole-Evans-Babbitt-Cunningham-Ajinca to give Anthony Davis a quick breath of one to two minutes could be intriguing. It could also go up in flames defensively. If Jrue can go I want to get as many minutes as possible with him guarding Curry.
Kyle: Give me more Norris Cole. Hell, put him in the starting line-up if you have to, as our own flesh and bones spark plug to come out fighting. Sub Jrue in for Norris at 6 minutes into the opening quarter, and limit Omer to fewer minutes where he's not going to be a liability.
Oleh: It revolves around Ryan Anderson. Either Monty needs to take a sink/swim approach or look down the bench and find a replacement for his minutes (Luke Babbitt). Anderson needs to understand that he's going to get 20+ minutes and have plenty of time to let the game come to him, or stay locked away in some lonely gym until he regains his shooting touch.