The Golden State Warriors built an 84-59 lead late in the third quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference first round against the New Orleans Pelicans. They’re big favorites on the NBA betting lines for Game 2.
The New Orleans Pelicans Can Win Because…
They are going to take a lot of confidence from forcing Golden State to work hard to finish off Game 1. The NBA odds underdog Pelicans were able to run off 14 straight points to turn an 84-59 deficit to 84-73. They got the deficit under 10 points in the final three minutes and were able to slice the deficit to four points, 103-99, in the final 15 seconds. Golden State held on to win, but the Pelicans scored 40 of the game’s final 62 points. Anthony Davis showed why he’s clearly one of the seven best players in the league. He scored 35 points and blocked four shots while altering countless other shots against Klay Thompson and other Golden State players. Davis can protect the rim, which means that his teammates don’t have to make unnecessary gambles against Stephen Curry and Thompson. If New Orleans can structure its defense differently to not get caught in switches or in pick-and-rolls, Golden State will not get as many weakside cuts to the basket with Davis not at the rim to deny the shot. There are very realistic fixes for New Orleans on defense.
The other reason the Pelicans could be considered for an NBA pick is that Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday shot very poorly, combining for just seven made shots in 21 attempts, which is 33 percent. If the two players can shoot something around 45 percent in Game 2 and New Orleans does make defensive improvements, the Pelicans can very definitely win this game.
The Golden State Warriors Can Win Because…
They were able to win Game 1 without too much trouble, even though they left a lot of points on the court. Golden State could have beaten New Orleans by a large margin, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both missed three free throws. That’s not going to happen very often. Curry wasn’t even shooting well from three-point range, making only 4 of 13 three-point shots. Thompson, who was clearly bothered by Davis when he drove to the basket, finished 6 of 17 from the field. Golden State’s bench was outscored, 25-12. The Warriors missed 13 free throws. They did so many things at an average level, if not worse. Yet, they won without being seriously threatened, only mildly so.
Golden State succeeded in this game because it was able to get Davis out of position on defense and wear out the Pelicans’ guards. Curry and Thompson are too quick for Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter of New Orleans. New Orleans might have the single best player on the court (Davis, though that’s debatable), but Golden State has the next four best players and can exploit more matchup advantages.
The Pelicans are fighting uphill in this series, as we saw in Game 1. This team didn’t even have a chance to beat Golden State at the end of the fourth quarter, even though the Warriors missed a lot of free throws and three-pointers. The Warriors should continue to control this series at home, so take them with your NBA picks in Game 2, especially keeping in mind the dramatic movements in NBA Playoffs betting lines.
NBA Pick: Golden State at BookMaker