After a record breaking season, the Golden State Warriors begin their road to the NBA title with a road block in the form of the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that’s not ashamed to admit that it’s about Anthony Davis, and nothing much else.
Davis had the kind of season that puts him in MVP territory, although he won’t win it. He’s not just a numbers, PER monster anymore. He carried the team on his back when their starting point guard was injured, and through some motivational speech from his head coach, Davis got the Pelicans into the playoffs after a fantastic finish over the last three weeks.
The Warriors have beaten New Orleans three out of four times this season, but Davis sat out two of those games. The Pelicans beat the Warriors after Draymond Green (probably) said some arrogant things to their bench before the final encounter of the season, leading to the Pelicans coming away with the win. The loss didn’t mean much to the Warriors, but it meant a lot to the Pelicans.
So what do the Pelicans have to sell against Stephen Curry, probably the leading candidate to win the MVP award, next to Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut, and a long and versatile bench? Two things factor into the final conclusion, of whether the Pelicans can even bother the Warriors or not, and it’s about Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday.
Holiday isn’t going to be playing a lot, but if he can give the Pelicans 20 to 25 quality minutes each night, the Pelicans might actually have an advantage against the Warriors bench, although Tyreke Evans can give the Warriors problems as well. Davis is a burden to deal with, but he’s just one player, and blending Green and Bogut on him can wear him down if he doesn’t get help from Evans and Gordon on a consistent basis.
It’s hard to find a single category the Warriors aren’t better at than the Pelicans. They lead the NBA in offensive efficiency and come in second defensively. This is a strong, stout, complete team from top to bottom. But Anthony Davis is a game changer, and if he can put either Andrew Bogut or Draymond Green in early foul trouble, things are going to get a lot more interesting in what initially seems like a pretty clear cut, one sided series.