The Warriors are up on the Pelicans 2-0 in their first-round best-of-seven series, and some things have become apparent. First and foremost, New Orleans seems incapable of winning this thing. They didn’t look like they could win it before the series started, didn’t look like they could win it after Game 1 and certainly don’t look like they can win it after the Warriors’ 97-87 win on Monday.
Perhaps the biggest reason the Pelicans can’t pull off a first-round upset is because the Warriors’ defense is just too darn good. Bottom line, it’s going to take a team with more weapons and more well-rounded players than New Orleans has. Outside of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans’ roster is downright ordinary, with too many limited players, and it’s unrealistic to believe they can win four out of the next five games.
They just can’t score enough, consistently enough, to challenge the Warriors.
On the surface, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon appeared to be quite productive in Game 2, but therein is the issue. For as well as these two supposedly played it wasn’t nearly enough to put any real fear into the Warriors. Evans finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists but his erratic shooting (4-for-13 from the field; 7-for-12 from the line) was a big problem.
Ditto for Gordon. Yes, he went 9-for-19 from the floor, with five 3-pointers, for 23 points but let’s dissect that a little more. How about this: After the first quarter, Gordon went 5-for-14 from the field and had four turnovers. Now throw in the fact that Davis went 0-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter and it’s easy to see why the Pelicans were shut down in the second half.
Here are some other things standing out:
***For the second straight game Omer Asik was a liability for New Orleans. He did get 13 rebounds on Monday night, but if rebounding is all he’s going to do it’s not good enough. The game is moving too fast for Asik right now — whether the Warriors play big or small. He’s been no factor at the offensive end and even on the defensive end it’s tough to see what he’s adding.
You’d think New Orleans coach Monty Williams would try to ride Ryan Anderson more (he played only nine minutes in Game 2) but no. Anderson also has struggled through two games but he’s had far less of an opportunity than Asik and at least he has to be guarded, particularly outside the 3-point line.
***Here’s some real bad news for the Pelicans: They’re down 2-0 and Stephen Curry isn’t playing well. At least by Stephen Curry standards. Curry is just 7-for-22 from beyond the arc (31.8 percent) and his assist-to-turnover ratio is a cringe-worthy 11-to-8. He hasn’t had a stretch yet the Warriors fans are used to. The one where he knocks down three 3-pointers in what seems like a two- to three-minute stretch.
***It’s tough to criticize Davis, who is not only the best player on the Pelicans but also one of the best players in the NBA. Quite frankly, he’s got to do more than he’s capable of to lift this team into competitiveness, but he’s been conspicuously absent at key stretches of this series. In Game 1, Davis seemed to come out a tad passive, perhaps wanting to allow the game to come to him. However, while Davis was failing to be aggressive the Warriors were taking a bigger and bigger lead. One that eventually reached 25. His 20 points in the fourth quarter were nice, but they were window dressing in large part.
In Game 2, Davis established himself throughout. He was nothing short of a handful through three quarter. But in the fourth quarter, the Warriors locked up Davis — or more specifically Draymond Green — and he missed all five of his field goal attempts. Again, it’s tough to knock Davis, but he’s seemed to be most effective at the wrong times.
***Andrew Bogut’s rim protection in this series has been terrific. When Bogut gives you double-figures in points, like he did in Game 1, that’s a bonus. The reason it’s gravy is because what he always brings to the table is so valuable to the Warriors. All season long Bogut has consistently blocked, smothered and dismissed guards who dare to try to finish at the rim.
And Monday was no exception. Time and time again Bogut thwarted inside attempts by Norris Cole, Evans and Gordon. He was credited with three blocks but it seems like he has a half-dozen “changes” every game — plays where he alters opposing attempts. When are little guys going to realize they better pull up for a floater rather than try to get to the rim?
To hear more sports talk with Matt Steinmetz you can download the Sal and Steiny Podcast on ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sal-steiny-show-podcast/id949773587