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NBA Playoffs: Can the Pelicans take down the Champs?

Flickr - Keith Allison

By Alex Trap – 

The Pelicans are a very menacing team and they have proved that in this year’s NBA Playoffs. When Demarcus Cousins was lost for the season due to his Achilles injury, many pundits thought their season was over. The front office acted quickly and traded for Nikola Mirotic who was averaging 16.8 points per game (PPG), 6.4 total rebounds (TRB), and shooting an efficient 42.9% from three. While he does play a different position than Cousins, he definitely provided a much-needed offensive spark.

Another reason the Pelicans have done so well since losing Cousins is the stellar play of Jrue Holiday. He has averaged 19.0 PPG this year and had many good performances in the first round, the most notable being his 41 points and 8 assists in Game 4. Rondo is another player to look out for, as he is a veteran who always steps up his game in the playoffs. Some perfect examples were in Game 3, when he had 11 assists and 16 points or in Game 4 when he had 16 assists getting Davis and Holiday wide open looks.

The main reason the Pelicans have looked so dominate towards the end of the season and into the playoffs has been the MVP level of play from Anthony Davis (AD). He has been lighting it up as always, scoring 47 points in Game 4. Once Cousins went down, Davis truly stepped up his game and carried this team on his back, showing why many consider him a top 5 player in the NBA.

The Pelicans are so dynamic that they are bewildering teams’ defenses by just surrounding AD with shooters. Rondo moves the ball very well, and keeps the offense flowing. Davis is determined to win and continues to show this with his persistent hard work and dedication to the game. He said, “Me playing well and us losing doesn’t mean anything. I want to win, so I don’t care about having two points, four points or thirty points. As long as we win, that’s all that really matters.”

This Pelicans team made NBA history as they are the only team to sweep a third seed (Portland Trailblazers) in the first round. Alvin Gentry really demonstrated his coaching skills in this first round, by how quickly he integrated Mirotic and Rondo into the Pelicans offense, and utilizing his bench players, player matchups, and rotations flawlessly. Now, the Pelicans face a much tougher opponent in the Warriors in the second round, who just ran through the Spurs in just 5 games. Curry’s injury status is up in the air, and many critics feel the Pelicans can upset the Curry-less Warriors. But with Curry due back at some point this series, this could be a very scary matchup for the Pels.

The last time these teams met up on April 7th, with this new Pelicans roster, the Pels won by 6. In the postgame interview Kevin Durant was asked how dangerous he thought the Pelican’s offense was and he said, “AD is such a great roller, you know pick and roll and you can’t switch on him because he can score on anybody, so put that out there surrounded by shooters and Rondo who is a wizard with the ball…. with AD rolling to the rim they can toss a lob up, they could drop it to him, he could knock down a J… so I can see why they are one of the best offenses right now.”

All NBA fans are excited to see this series and to see if the Pelicans are a real force this post season or just another stepping stone for the Warriors. Gentry has kept the team heading towards new heights, even without Cousins, and amazing play by Davis, Holiday, Rondo and Mirotic has them on an exciting run, but will it be enough to take down the defending champs?

 

References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBzmKbtbl44\

https://www.basketball-reference.com/

www.landofbasketball.com/

 

 

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