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2018 NBA Playoffs: “Can’t stand it, I know you planned it.” — Fans cry sabotage in Warriors dominant 123-101 victory over Pelicans in Game 1

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Free throw disparities, turnovers, 2nd chance points, missed opportunities and a lack of hustle bring Pelicans Nation back to Earth — hopefully for one night only.

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

That sound you hear is all of the air leaving the balloon...

...however, three hours earlier Oracle arena’s DJ set the tone with a Beastie Boys classic track at tip-off (I had a typo where I typed, “tip-oof” instead and I almost let it ride for accuracy) that would perfectly encapsulate the evening despite some early false hope.

But let’s rewind a little bit. Steve Kerr — here’s an aside: in the late ‘90s my friends and I would do fantasy drafts in NBA Live and my friend would draft Steve Kerr in the 1st round every time — would play some cat-and-mouse with Alvin Gentry by not revealing Steph Curry’s status until after shoot around. It seemed that the NBA world, the city of New Orleans and Twitter thought Curry was definitely a go. However, shortly before tip Kerr revealed Curry would sit this one out. Alvin Gentry responded, “We’ll have to go with Plan B.”

Let’s hope these were the B-Sides and nothing but the hits are coming in Game 2. While it’s foolish to say the Pelicans would have been better prepared in a match up that featured the best shooter in the world...

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

This news sent a wave of confidence across New Orleans like it was the late ‘80s inside the Superdome during a 3-and-short with the Dome Patrol on the field.

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

The greatest trick the Warriors ever pulled was convincing the world that they would continue to play the way they played against the Spurs and at the tail end of the regular season — good, but beatable — without Steph Curry.

But again, I’m getting ahead of myself. The Pelicans came out with energy on the offensive end opening up the scoring with a promising lob to Anthony Davis from Rajon Rondo — who would have some very memorable passes in a a hopefully soon forgettable game.

Soon after the Warriors would try to sandwich Davis with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, but he’d create enough space to get an entry pass and hit a midrange jumper. The Pelicans had Nikola Mirotic guarding Kevin Durant and he’d give it his all making shots that Durant made look easy actually kind of difficult — but asking a human to guard Durant is just folly.

The Pelicans defense would become one of their biggest undoings, but coming out of the gate there was effort. Jrue Holiday would get an early block on Klay. Of course, Durant would return the favor blocking Jrue seconds later, but then AD would catch Draymond in transition to block him at the rim. Jrue would then strip Draymond above the key, but the ball would bounce the Warriors way. The ball would do this a lot — the ball was rigged.

Round 2 Is an Inside Job Exhibit A:

The conspiracy crowd came out in droves tonight, and they were given early ammunition as Draymond Green clearly fouled Anthony Davis on a lob attempt that wound up with Davis being bear-hugged out of bounds — no call.

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

Alvin Gentry gets an honorable, “I got my players’ back” tech. The Warriors would start their march to the foul line. The Pels would think back and try to remember what the charity stripe looked like — the Warriors would finish with 32 attempts at the line, the Pelicans just 11.

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

But before total despair, there was optimism. Rondo found Anthony Davis for what looked like a soul-crushing alley-oop, but alas the Warriors are soulless planet eaters — still, this is insane.

It was some real Stretch Armstrong-like shit.

E’Twaun Moore was hot early. Moore was getting himself open as a very active cutter and making good on the finishes — starting the night 4 for 4.

He also showed moments of nice defense on Klay Thompson early — all of which early foul trouble would end. It was clear that he needs to play with that activity level on offense and be sound without fouling on defense because Solomon Hill entered the game and....uggghhhh.

In case you aren’t good at reading tea leaves — even if those tea leaves are a Stefan Sagmeister typographic installation spelling out, “he missed the three” — well, he missed the three.

Then he fouled Durant giving him a 4-point opportunity — luckily he didn’t convert or this one could have really been out of hand. While much of Pels Twitter would focus on some fair to say questionable officiating, this is where the Pelicans would initiate their own self-sabotage. After a series of terrible possessions on both ends of the floor, Alvin Gentry would take a very good timeout — often in this manner.

It was a shame he couldn’t have rolled over some of those unused Monty Williams timeouts because he needed every single one he could get. This momentarily stopped the bleeding, like putting chewed bubblegum on a wound. Jrue would immediately bait Draymond on a fake and get awarded two free throws — a sight rarer than an underwater crop circle.

Shortly after that, there would be another rare sight as Darius Miller found Ian Clark on a helter skelter play that involved the ball actually bouncing the Pelicans way. And while we are talking about rarities, how about this Solomon Hill bucket off of an amazing Holiday dish?

New Orleans would play out the first quarter like a team that deserved to be in this fight.

(*Inset tweet that did not age well*)

Darius Miller would strip Kevin Durant. Solo would show flashes of the defense we hoped to see from him drawing an offensive foul from David West. Jrue would hit from mid range and then again from the corner for three. The Pels closed the first down just one — 35-34. They made you excited for the start of the second, but...

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

The applause worthy — even if it was just golf claps with the mute button on — defensive efforts that reared their heads in the first quarter would vanish in the second. This would be evident on the first bucket of the quarter — a beautiful bounce pass from David West to a hard cutting Draymond Green, and then West would immediately reject Darius Miller on the other end. Then Ian Clark bailed Shaun Livingston out by sending him to the free throw line, fouling him on a tough turnaround jumper.

Though the Pelicans would continue to give a spark hope for just a bit longer. Rondo found Niko on a decisive cut. Draymond would get stripped leading to a Darius Miller transition 3 that tied the game at 39-39.

Rajon Rondo also did this.

But then things began to unravel — like you pulled that string on Rivers Cuomo’s sweater (I mean why not throw in a Weezer reference when we are talking about things that were great that then became terrible?) and just walked away. Rondo blocked a Thompson three, but Ian Clark would miss the transition three. Rondo would then get blocked at the rim setting up a transition layup for Quinn Cook. Next possession a turnover would lead to a powerful transition dunk from Shaun Livingston — the Pelicans were letting the moment get to them. They began a major self-sabotage — careless with the ball and care less on defense.

Then that other sabotage also kicked up a notch.

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

On the TNT broadcast — another target of Pelicans fans’ ire — Marv Albert yelled out, “nice move” — a move that would send a, to that point, effective E’Twaun Moore to the bench with his third foul. It would be the third turnover in four trips for the Pelicans, creating a seven-point gap that would grow at a rate that your estranged cheek tugging aunt from Cleveland would claim you did on the every fourth year visit you’d get from her.

But still, the Pelicans were lacking focus and discipline on defense, which was the real problem. However, when effort was shown, the ball would still bounce the wrong way: Anthony Davis would get called for a goaltend by just being a fraction of a second late blocking a shot just as it butterfly kissed the backboard.

The Pelicans would still keep it interesting enough to make you stay tuned. Mirotic banged an off-balanced three that was followed up by a heist movie like fit through a laser field dime from Rondo to Holiday.

Then the red pill would kick back in again and the matrix would reveal itself.

New Orleans would keep killing possessions with turnovers. And no matter how hard Jrue or any other defender would make a KD shot, it would still fall. Then there was the one-direction parade to the free throw line — including a terribly iffy call on Davis guarding perennial all-star Kevon Looney and Jrue Holiday picking up his third foul. Davis would also be given the no-call treatment when fouled by Draymond on another lob attempt.

But again, there was plenty of self-sabotage.

The offense was coming to the Warriors way too easily. Draymond Green threw a lob to Kevin Durant.

Klay hit what felt like a dagger 3 with one minute left in the first half. Then hit a second dagger with 49 seconds left. A 24-2 run by them.

Thankfully, Darius Miller ended the half — if Old Yeller’s owner had ended the half it could have also been satisfying — with a jaw-dropping buzzer-beating three (which Marv Albert credited to Rajon Rondo) silver lining that put any called audibles for Saturday night fun on hold.

The excitement would quickly fade as stats would punch you right in the mouth.

Then fantasy scenarios would would kick in — in increasing absurdity.

But hey, the 2nd half started with a Pelicans 2-0 run after Davis bobbles a tipped pass — the Warriors’ length made ball movement look like bowel movements often — then regathers for a dunk. Yep, we had to celebrate 2-0 runs in this game. We couldn’t celebrate Jrue driving into a crowd and bouncing out with no bucket or call. And then there was the possession where the ball was clearly controlled by a CIA agent whom had planted a device in the ball that controlled how the ball bounced — have a look, that ball is definitely wearing a wire.

The CIA agent and his remote control would stay active in the third — forcing balls to bounce the Warriors way.

Here’s your reminder of the sabotage — Jrue gets a touch foul after Rondo is stripped by Green.

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

But, here’s also a reminder that there was still plenty of self-sabotage.

But hey, Kumar, the Pels got their 4th team foul with 8:56 left to play in the third. I agree with you, but I’m still mad at the fouls.

Alvin Gentry again proved he is no Monty Williams.

Chris Webber agreed to honorarily call the third timeout.

As dire as things looked — and would continue to be — as long as Anthony Davis breathes this team will still give you highlights.

There was a brief stretch of sloppiness from Golden State as if they were begging the Pelicans to keep it interesting. (Imagine this in Ron Howard’s voice leading into the Arrested Development theme song) The Pelicans would not.

The Pelicans were allergic to buckets in the third. An allergy that proved lethal. Then Jrue would pick up his 5th foul with 2:31 left in the third...

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

Anthony Davis would eventually score again in the waning moments of the third and I remembered thinking, “I could have watched Infinity War in the time it took the Pelicans to score again.” And then of course Quinn Cook immediately filled in for Chef Curry with a three followed by a Durant three over Miller for a 30-point lead. However, Moore would find the net on a buzzer beating floater giving us a win in one category for the night.

This one didn’t bring the same sense of hope that Miller’s did.

Follicle superstitions and strategy became more interesting than the game itself.

The final act would would start with a Mirotic turnover. But Will would foreshadow fun to come even if it was in whatever actual trash would call garbage time.

Alvin Gentry would comply. Imagine this in Ron Howard’s voice leading into the Arrested Development theme song: ‘So would Jordan Crawford.’

Immediately, Crawford banged a three. He also grabbed two boards. Crawford momentarily took to passing with a really nice find to Cheick Diallo who couldn’t convert — “couldn’t convert” was trending for everyone not named Grits. Grits would feel himself again with a nice leaner of a 2. Ian Clark who had recently been killed by former teammate Klay Thompson on the block rose from the dead to beat the shot clock from deep.

Then Jordan Crawford continued his audition — handing out head shots, resumes and even stopping mid court calling for a spotlight in which he gave a gripping rendition of the, “Explanation of a Hero” monologue from JCVD.

Crawford hit a tough jumper over Cook...followed by another three...followed by a rebound leading to another tough turnaround jumper. He’d score 14 points in 8 minutes on 85.7% shooting while also collecting three rebounds and one assist making him the rich man’s garbage time man — or Sidney Torres IV. Unfortunately, the internet was too bored at this point and no highlights of his one-man play could be found, but it was prettier than this:

After the game, Alvin Gentry then shed light on what wrong...

...or did it go just as planned, coach?

“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage”

But Jim is right...

As bad as this game was it isn’t time to panic. This was a buzz saw of bad bounces, calls and effort, but things will even out. If you don’t believe me at least listen to my friends.

Seriously though, it was terrible, heartbreaking and confidence busting — but it’s likely the floor performance for this series. If the Pelicans can just return to the level of engagement on defense — not necessarily the success, just the effort — this series will make a turn for the entertaining.

Let’s start with baby steps, then get back to our bold Pels in 6 proclamations if we steal Game 2 on Tuesday. But then again, Anthony Davis’ growth spurt isn’t walking through that door...

...Dang, it’s 4:30 am...good night.