By Griffin Finch
The reigning champions found themselves matched up with the New Orleans Pelicans who have been on a roll in the Conference Semifinals. When the Warriors took game one by a margin of 22 points without the services of Steph Curry everyone knew it was over. The only question was how many games would it take? Unsurprisingly the Pelicans were only able to win game three at home by 19 in an effort where Anthony Davis put up 33 points and 18 rebounds. The championship pedigree was too much for New Orleans to overcome in this series.
After the Pelicans sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers, they were playing so well that it was thought that maybe if Curry remains out due to a knee injury that the Pelicans could potentially upset the Warriors. The Trail Blazers style of play lulled New Orleans into a false sense of self confidence. They matched up so well with them because Portland specializes in running the pick and roll with their all star backcourt and the Pelicans have several players that are experts in guarding the pick and roll specifically Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Once they played Golden State the superior ball movement and stifling defense proved to much for Alvin Gentry’s team. I think this series was more about the Warriors being the better team than the Pelicans doing anything wrong. This year especially without DeMarcus Cousins they never had enough to beat the Warriors.
During the first round, Golden State worked their way out of their doldrums against the Spurs, locked in and refocused for the playoffs all without their two-time MVP Steph Curry. Once he was ready to come back in game two versus New Orleans we finally got to see what a fully loaded and focused Warriors team looks like and we were not disappointed. Curry had 28 points in 27 minutes in his triumphant return. From that point we acknowledged that the Warriors are the prohibitive favorites even against the Rockets. Steve Kerr deserves a lot of credit for getting his team focused for the playoffs and once they were locked in, the champs just did their thing thoroughly handling an inferior team.
After seeing the Pelicans play very well without DeMarcus Cousins, it isn’t unrealistic to think that next year they might be ready to compete for titles. They could stand pat this offseason and be very good. If they want to make a move that would put them over the top they should look to acquire a wing player (preferably a small forward) that can create his own shot as well as play solid perimeter defense. The Warriors will play the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals and after seeing what they did to New Orleans, Golden State is certainly favored. I expect it to be a good series with the Warriors winning in six games.