The Pelicans were beaten in just about every major facet on Saturday night by the Warriors in one of the most anticipated matchups in New Orleans postseason history. Coming in on an electric nine-game winning streak, reality decided to add an ugly paragraph to the Cinderella story in the form of Draymond Green and his fellow reigning champs comrades.
After a blistering 35-34 start that even had Klay Thompson besides himself, the Pelicans fell apart in dramatic fashion in a ten-minute span of the second quarter. GSW held the advantage in rebounding (19), foul shots (23-2), assists (33 on 44 made shots), blocks (10) — just about every major category there is.
The Pelicans fell asleep defensively as the Warriors confused with their off-screen offense, but the offensive side of the ball is where Pelicans fans were left wanting more. New Orleans went from an average of 1.5 actions per possession in the playoffs to just .4 in the second quarter. No picks, flare screens, nothing. Just isolation basketball.
The formula for the Pelicans in Game 2 is simple:
In the first quarter, the Pelicans trailed by one, 35-34, but they shot a remarkable 60% from the floor while holding GSW to but 46%. Foul shots and second chance opportunities allowed the Warriors to keep pace.
As for the excessive amount of personal fouls, they can both be from a lack of discipline and a fluke at the same time. Though the Pelicans may have been the victim of a happy whistle, the likelihood of it happening to this degree again is unlikely.
The Warriors are known for spurts of scoring in little to no time at all. Their penchant for transition buckets and efficient three-point shooting can leave an opponent feeling exasperated.
The Pelicans looked to suffer from those feelings in the second. Ian Clark missed runner after jumper outside the paint, and Rajon Rondo found facilitated open corner threes that simply missed their marks.
Alvin Gentry’s troops just need to continue moving the ball, get to the fourth quarter, and rely on their decisive fourth quarter playmaking that has made them so dangerous in the back half of this season.
One interesting note: Stephen Curry is set to return for the Warriors, and the minutes restriction has been all but removed from his playing status. The two-time MVP presents a myriad of problems for any defense, but for a squad that spent a week preparing for him, it might not be the advantage that the Warriors enjoyed on Saturday night.
While the Warriors blew the doors off offensively, defensively is where they truly took advantage of the Pels with their elite size and length. The Pelicans might be able to take advantage of Curry’s defense. While a competitive player in one-on-one instances, he struggles to fight over screens, and his length in the paint can be a weakness when matched up against longer players.
Rajon Rondo can use the space Curry will likely give him by setting himself as the decoy and finding Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore on hand-offs for 12-footers.
Regardless of the plan of attack, throwing the proverbial book out and staying focused on what got the Pelicans here needs to be priority number one. To clear heads, the players took a day away from each other to reflect before enjoying a team dinner. They’ve overcome adversity all year long. There’s no reason to believe that will end here.
On to Game Two! Let’s Geaux Pels!
Join David Grubb, Oleh Kosel, and Tim Cranjis as they break down what went wrong, and how the Pelicans will bounce back!