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Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Warriors

It's the best team in the NBA, but New Orleans can't use that as an excuse.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

However improbable it may seem, the Pelicans need to get a win against the Warriors. Each time, they've been in a virtual tie for the 8th spot out West, it's been a fleeting stay as they've always lost in the next game. That trend can't continue to happen, not with 6 games remaining on the schedule (5 for OKC).

Last chance

Before the San Antonio Spurs wiped the floor with Warriors this past Sunday, GSW had lost just 4 times in 25 games since the All-Star break. They were on a 12-game winning streak. Every team wants to be peaking heading into the playoffs, so it sounds like mission accomplished.

Thus, it's been rather surprising Steve Kerr hasn't chosen to rest his players in any 6 of their previous 7 games which have come on the road, even if he was ridiculed for doing just that in Denver three weeks ago. In his explanation, he claimed he wouldn't look to rest players at home, but on the road, he wanted to give guys a break every now and then because it's more important to be rested for the playoffs than make every paying customer to an NBA game happy.

On Sunday, the Spurs media was surprised at how much run Kerr gave his regulars and stated Popovich would have never done that.

Well, Kerr has one more chance before the postseason begins. In the Warriors remaining five games, tomorrow is their last one on the road. With their recent winning streak over, having clinched the top seed, hearing some criticism about not sitting key players, and perhaps interested in not divulging their full attack against a potential first round opponent, will Kerr sit anyone tomorrow in the Smoothie King Center?

We can hope, but you best believe the Pelicans coaching staff and players will not be counting on it. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they would rather face #FullSquadron because they don't need any other teams doing them favors. With that mindset, let's have a look at three crucial keys against Steph and Co.

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Punch them in the mouth. It's easier said than done, but the Spurs managed the feat less than 24 hours ago. Kawhi Leonard harassed Stephen Curry while Danny Green was draped all over Klay Thompson. Offensively, the Spurs wings outscored the Splash Brothers 44-30. To beat an exceptional team, it's going to take something special and it nearly happened the last time the Pelicans welcomed the Warriors. On December 14th, Curry/Thompson had 63 points, but the combination of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday countered with 64.
  2. Anthony Davis plays like an MVP. Along the same lines, New Orleans MVP candidate has to play like one. AD hasn't been slacking, but his numbers have been down of late. The Pelicans will probably need the guy who put up 41 and 10 against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook if they want to pull off the amazing.
  3. Start fast but keep the pedal down. The Spurs were up on the Warriors 31-17 after the first quarter and then 57-38 at halftime. On the road, GSW is 9-5 when trailing after the first quarter, but 7-9 if they're losing at halftime. The Pelicans need to play with an intensity as if it's the NCAA tournament -- win or go home -- from start to finish.
At this point in the season, the Pelicans can best quality opponents by simply beating them in most facets of a game. Match intensity, avoid turnovers, make defensive plays, fight through screens, get hands in all shooters' faces, block out and most importantly, never quit. Overachieve, don't underachieve. Or, as a science fiction character has said, do or do not. There is no try.

Why am I so adamant about getting this game? Because of what it represents. The Pelicans have a slew of very difficult games remaining. They haven't beaten a Western Conference playoff team since March 7th (Grizzlies). Getting this game could create a snowball effect that could roll New Orleans all the way to the postseason.

Geaux Pelicans!!!

What: Pelicans vs. Warriors

Where: The Smoothie King Center

When: April 7th, 7:00 PM

How: Fox Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass