For the first time in what should be an illustrious NBA career, Anthony Davis is taking the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs following a 108-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
With the win, the Pelicans claim 8th in the West. They have the same record as the Oklahoma City Thunder, but have beaten them in three out of the four meetings this season, including 116-113 with a Davis buzzer beater last in February to clinch the season series. It turns out the team’s MVP also scored the biggest basket of the season, which is quite fitting.
Davis didn’t slow down against the Spurs either. The Pelicans finish the season by winning three of their last four including 8-of-11 since March 27, the date everything started taking a good spin for them after falling three games behind the Thunder. Davis said his head coach, Monty Williams, picked the player up from that low point, and they’ve never looked back.
Davis scored 31 points to go with 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks on the biggest and most important game of his career. The Pelicans finished the first quarter on a 16-2 run and led by 22 points by the early goings of the second quarter. The Spurs did stop the slide at some point, but the closest they got was to 3-points behind with 11 seconds left in the game. That late comeback didn’t really change anything or rattle the less experienced Pelicans.
This is a new playoff experience for more than just Davis. Players like Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans have never seen the playoffs. Jrue Holiday has 18 games behind him and Ryan Anderson made it with the Orlando Magic. Omer Asik has a few games under his belt and Norris Cole has been to the NBA finals three times. But those are the fringe players, not the guys carrying the team. For them, facing the Warriors will be something completely new.
The loss to the Pelicans dropped the Spurs to sixth in the West. Yes, that’s life. The Houston Rockets end up with the second spot, the Clippers are third while the Grizzlies are fifth, which means San Antonio will face the Clippers, two teams that can win the championship, in the first round of the postseason. Meanwhile, the Celtics and Nets get in with a sub .500.