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The Pelicans Sweep Portland To Advance To The Second Round

Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four

Congratulations to the New Orleans Pelicans on becoming the first team this year to punch their ticket to the second round. Not only was this the first playoff series win in Anthony Davis’ career, but to do it in a quick four games sure is impressive. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the Pelicans are currently on a 9 game winning streak. They closed out the season strong winning their last five, and now after seeing them completely manhandle the 3rd seeded Blazers, there may not be a team in the NBA playing as well as the Pelicans are. All of the sudden their inevitable series with the Warriors just got a whole hell of a lot more exciting.

They key for NO not just in this game but in this series, has been how ridiculous both Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have been. I’m not sure how you stop a guy like AD, and his 33/12.0/1.3/2.5 line while shooting 57% of the field this series tells us that POR didn’t really have any idea either. In today’s win all he did was go for 47/11 on 15-24 shooting, and what’s scary is he’s been more efficient with every game. What a goddamn monster. The same is true of Holiday, who defensively won Game 1 by himself, and put up 27.8/4.0/6.5 on 56/35% splits in this series. A huge Game 4 for him, with 41 points on 15-23 shooting helped close the deal, and he’s going to pose a good challenge for Curry on both ends once he gets back.

As a team, NO won this series because they stayed true to how they’ve played since the All Star Break. Their 98.8 Drtg is 4th among playoff teams, and their 11.3 net rating trails only GS. POR shot just 42/32% against this Pelican defense, and they showed that if they turn you over, you’re fucked. Finishing 2nd in the playoffs in points off turnovers just goes to show you how hard of a time the Blazers had with this defense. Their success on offense didn’t come so much as a result of shooting the three (9th among playoff teams), instead they capitalized on high percentage shots, finishing with the 3rd best FG% of any playoff team and the most points in the paint with 52.0 a night. The ball was moving throughout the series, with the Pelicans averaging 26 assists, and that will be important moving forward as they are about to play a much tougher defense.

During the year NO went 1-3 against GS, but 3 of the 4 were decided by 10 or less, and remember, this Pelicans team is rolling. It will be interesting to see how GS handles Davis, and if you look over the last few years the teams that play GS well are teams that can defensively challenge their guards. Just like the Pelicans showed they could do against Dame/CJ. You know Jrue and Playoff Rondo are ready for the challenge.

For POR, a bit of a disappointing season given how well they played the entire year. Any time you get swept it feels pretty shitty, and they’ll now enter the summer in essentially the same place they were last year. They are still a player if not two away. There will be a lot of talk that POR should split up CJ/Dame and try to get more assets, the problem is whatever you get back I’m not sure makes you a better team. From a financial standpoint, even without their $49M in cap holds, they still have $113M committed to this team in salary next year. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team that did not win a game in the first round of the playoffs. And it doesn’t get much better any time soon. Woof.

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Now the Pelicans get to rest up and figure out a way to pull off what would be a gigantic upset. You know what they say in the playoffs, that as long as you have the best player on the court you have a chance, well I’m not sure anyone is playing better than Anthony Davis right now. It should be a fantastic series, I can’t wait.