The New Orleans Pelicans whipped through their first-round playoff matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. No. 6 New Orleans pulled off a surprising sweep of the Blazers and are now locked in a semifinals series with the No. 2 Golden State Warriors.
Predictably, their first game at Oracle Arena wasn’t as easy as their contests against Portland. They dropped the game by a score of 123-101. Now the Pelicans will regroup and try to bring the same fire they did against the Trail Blazers.
But New Orleans will have an even tougher time, given that Steph Curry is expected to take the court for Game 2. Curry has been out since late March with an MCL sprain and will try to shake off the rust tomorrow night against the Pelicans.
The last time that the two-time NBA MVP had a long layoff before returning to the playoffs, he scored 40 points against Portland in a 132-125 victory. For good measure, Curry also grabbed nine rebounds and delivered eight assists.
Fellow Golden State star Kevin Durant looks forward to seeing his teammate back on the court.
“He loves the game just as much as anybody I ever been around and I know he wants to play. I’ve just been thinking about that, just worrying about how he feels not playing,” Durant said.
“Excited for him to get back just to be in a place where he enjoys most, which is playing ball, and the other stuff, we’ll figure it out. But I’m more so excited as his brother that he’s out there, he gets to play basketball, something that he loves to do.”
With another game at Oracle and Curry returning, the odds are stacked against New Orleans more than ever before. And you can see this reflected in our GTBets odds below.
Can the Pelicans shock people and even up the series, or at least play well enough to cover the spread? Find out as I discuss both teams’ prospects in Game 2 of this Western Conference semifinals series.
Warriors Pelicans Odds – 2018 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals Game 2, May 1 at 10:35pm
- New Orleans +10.5 (-109) / +550 moneyline
- Golden State -10.5 (-109)/ -755 moneyline
- Over/under 226.5 (-109)
Why the New Orleans Pelicans Will Cover +10.5
Everything starts with forward Anthony Davis who’s averaging over 30 points in the playoffs. He wasn’t as dynamic against the Warriors in Game 1. But The Brow still put up a solid state line with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
Jrue Holiday had been on fire after torching Portland. But Golden State cooled him down. Nevertheless, Holiday is still averaging 24.4 PPG in the postseason.
Rajon Rondo has upped his game in the playoffs as usual. He’s averaging 10.6 PPG and giving the Pelicans gritty defense. Sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic remains a threat from anywhere on the court, and he’s averaging 16.4 PPG in the postseason.
New Orleans plays at the league’s fastest pace, with 102.73 possessions per game. This is even quicker than the Warriors, who ranked fifth with 101.5.
The Pelicans are one of the few teams in the NBA that can keep up with Golden State. And Warriors guard Klay Thompson discussed how tough it is to compete against this New Orleans squad.
“Man, it was tiring,” Thompson said. “The Spurs (first-round opponent), they are a little older, so they play a little more methodical. They try to beat us up in the half court and low block. This team is kind of like playing ourselves.
“It’s like, you make a bucket, you can’t relax. You have to sprint back, find a shooter and they are pushing the tempo. It’s a whole different ballgame.”
The Pelicans are up against a seemingly impossible task. They face a team with the NBA’s best offensive rating (112.3) and a strong defense. But they have enough star power, and a lightning fast pace that can give Golden State trouble.
Pelicans Playoffs ATS Record: 4-1 overall; 2-1 on the road
Why the Golden State Warriors Will Cover -10.5
Missing Steph Curry hasn’t slowed the Warriors down too much so far. Kevin Durant is leading the charge with 27.8 PPG, while Klay Thompson has proven a worthy sidekick with 23.3 PPG. Even Shaun Livingston has stepped up his game with 9.5 PPG.
Then there’s the ultimate utility man in Draymond Green, who played a fantastic all-around game against San Antonio. Green is leading the team in rebounds (11.8), assists (8.5), steals (1.7), and blocks (1.2) in the postseason.
“Draymond is going to guard everybody,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “He started on Davis, but when (Looney) came in to guard Davis, Draymond slid over to (Rajon) Rondo. You know how Draymond is. He wants to be in the fray and he wants to be in the middle of the floor.
“Middle of the action, I should say. We’re going to put him on people that are going to be in the middle of the action and probably not guys who are spotting up and shooting, so that he can make an impact.”
Golden State has proven very tough to score on. Holiday is a perfect example, because he couldn’t find his shot with Durant draped on him. He also faced Iguodala, Kevon Looney, Klay Thompson en route to 11 points on just 4-for-16 shooting. Holiday was particularly stifled by Durant, finishing 1-for-9 when guarded by the 7-footer.
“Well, Holiday has been really, really good, in that last series and late in the year so he was a priority for us for sure,” Kerr said. “I thought Kevin’s size factored in and Kevin did a great job on him.”
Golden State also did a good job of throwing different looks at Mirotic. In Game 2, Livingston, Thompson, Looney, and Green all harassed Mirotic into 3-of-9 shooting.
With everybody on their game and Curry coming back, it doesn’t seem like Golden State will have too much trouble winning Game 2. The only question is how much they’ll win by.
Warriors Playoffs ATS Record: 4-2 overall; 3-1 at home
Final Thoughts on Warriors and Pelicans Odds
New Orleans has been a feel-good story so far. They’re the lowest seeded team remaining in the playoffs. And it’s no secret that many fans would love to see this David topple Goliath, especially considering the success that the Warriors have had in the past few years.
But Golden State likely won’t face any serious challenge if/until they play the Houston Rockets next round. They don’t have much to worry about at home. But maybe New Orleans can give them a serious run at the Smoothie King Center in Game 3.
Final Score Prediction: Golden State wins 117-106 – Warriors cover -10.5 spread