Golden State Finds the Pelicans a Handful in Game 1 Saturday

warriors pelicans

Doug Upstone

Friday, April 27, 2018 3:46 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 27, 2018 3:46 PM UTC

The New Orleans Pelicans are on a major roll, but in their path is the defending NBA champion Golden State. Can New Orleans beat the odds and upset the Dubs? Game 1 is Saturday in Oakland.

Game 1: New Orleans (15-13 ATS Road Dog) at Golden State (17-23-2 ATS Home Fave)Free NBA Pick: PelicansBest Line Offered: SkyBook

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Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has the hottest team in the postseason as we move to phase two. New Orleans heads to "The City" with an eight-game winning streak and those making NBA picks are also extremely aware the Pelicans are on an 8-0 ATS run.

Series prices vary, but a consensus has New Orleans in the +550 to +600 range (with Golden State about -800), making them, in other words, a real long shot. For the series opener, the latest NBA odds have the Pelicans at +8.5 with a total of 223.5. Most series upsets occur when the visitor steals Game 1 -- does New Orleans have a shot?

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pic.twitter.com/bcYm5jU6Kg

— Pierre The Pelican (@PierreTPelican) April 25, 2018
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New Orleans Must Play to Offensive Strengths

To appreciate how the Pelicans pounded Portland, consider in the closing game Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday tied an NBA playoff game record with 88 combined points (Celtics legends John Havlicek and Jo Jo White were the other). They also were only the third twosome ever to both score 40 or more points in a postseason contest while connecting on 60 percent or better of attempts.

If Golden State had issues containing LaMarcus Aldridge, what they are going to do with Davis? Holiday is arguably one of the Top 5 two-way guards in the NBA and is playing at an extremely high level.

Chances are these two players will get their share of points. How New Orleans makes Game 1 compelling is Rajon Rondo staying focused in "playoff mode" and Nikola Mirotic picking his spots to score when the offense lags. In addition, New Orleans has to match bench points with Golden State game after game.

The key to the Warriors' offense is spacing. To reduce this, New Orleans has to stick with dribblers and find the happy medium of help defense and not detach from whom they are guarding, leaving that player wide open.

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Got it done on #WarriorsGround in Game 5 💪 #StrengthInNumbers pic.twitter.com/PmrMXDPJ0s

— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 26, 2018
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Golden State Adjustments On The Fly

In beating San Antonio in five, coach Steve Kerr's plan was to let Aldridge get his points and play tight defense on everyone else. That basically worked. When Aldridge became a problem, they doubled him and made his pass cross court to a teammate 20+ feet from the basket, with Golden State defenders primed to prevent backdoor cuts.

With Davis, it will have to be a mixture, with the most important aspect not letting him get to his favorite floor spots. Kerr's crew will look to slow Holiday and take away the Pelicans' other scoring options. It is a given Draymond Green and others will have a running dialogue with Rondo to get him thinking about doing things other than his job.

With Stephen Curry missing Round 1, Kerr tailored the offense toward Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson with modifications to have them get more early touches on each possession. Curry has practiced this week and is questionable for Game 1 -- most believe he will play.

Can Golden State win this series in five and cover at least three times? Yes, they can, if they are mentally locked in.

What to Expect?

Golden State was 3-1 (2-2 ATS) vs. New Orleans this season, but this is fresh series with unknowns. The Warriors took the first three contests, all when DeMarcus Cousins was still playing. New Orleans won earlier this month on the road, but Golden State was hardly playing their best. No Curry, either.

Not sure the Pelicans can win the opening tilt, but they can certainly make this very competitive, and I'll call for them to extended their ATS win streak to nine.

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