Let’s Get Ready to Scrimmage: Warriors Sweep Pelicans

By employing little rats as ball boys, the Pelicans managed to come up with some bulletin board material for this series. It’s not going to matter. They’re going to get swept.

I know it’s fashionable to award the lesser team a game or two in making series prognistications, but I just don’t see it here. The difference in talent between the Warriors and the Pelicans is just too great.

And this Warriors team is unlike almost any other team we’ve ever seen in NBA history, in one important respect: They never take a game off. Literally never.

Led by the indomitable will of Draymond Green and the extraordinary talent of Stephen Curry, the Warriors will sweep the Pelicans out of the playoffs.

Here’s a few more of my reasons why, and one possible way in which Monty Williams could flip the switch:       

Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson are back: No, they’re not.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Pelicans are now back at full strength. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bodies of Holiday and Anderson might be on the floor, but their game is still back at the practice facility, rehabbing. Anderson has played 9 games since returning, which have been the epitome of inconsistency. In those 9 games, he was .321 from the floor, .314 from three. Now he gets Draymond Green. Holiday has been back for three games, coming off the bench for limited minutes, with a game off for rest in between. Now he gets Stephen Curry.

Remember what happened when Michael Jordan came back from baseball? It wasn’t pretty.

Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson aren’t Michael Jordan.

The Pelicans are not, nor ever have been, a team: Do you remember when Tyreke Evans was lost and without a position with this team? When the Pellies were playing him at small forward and he didn’t have the ball in his hands, and he was averaging 28 minutes and 14 points and 22% from three? It wasn’t that long ago. Those were his averages last year.

Tyreke Evans needs the ball in his hands to be a player. He’s just about as bad as it gets in a wing when playing off the ball. But what about Jrue Holiday? Do you think he’s ever been comfortable playing off the ball while Tyreke stylizes?

So far, Monty has avoided past problems by bringing Holiday off the bench at backup point guard. That should be just fine for the Warriors, if it continues. Holiday is the Pellies best defender of Curry, and second best player.

The Pellies have been playing without Holiday and Anderson for quite some time. (Has recent acquisition Quincy Pondexter ever played with them?) It is completely unrealistic to expect the Pellies to be able to seamlessly reintegrate them, in the midst of a playoff series against the best team in the league.

Disintegration is far more likely.

No Curry Stopper: Where on the Pelicans roster is the Kawhi Leonard, the Danny Green, the Matt Barnes or Kevin Durant you need to take Stephen Curry out of his game in the playoffs? They don’t have a single long and versatile wing defender.

Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon are good defenders, or should I say, used to be good defenders, before Holiday missed half the season, and knee injuries wore Gordon down. But both of them are “only” 6-4″. I put only in quotes because that’s not bad size in an NBA guard, particularly when guarding point guards, in normal circumstances.

Stephen Curry is not normal circumstances.

You need a defender of extraordinary length to bother Stephen Curry’s three point shot, to make him feel you as he comes off those countless drag screens and high picks. And you need extraordinary length to bother his over-the-top pass when you blitz him. The Pellies simply don’t have it.

Sayonara.

Bill Russell v. Bill Russell: It’s not hard to see a little of the greatest player of all time in Anthony Davis. Davis is a long and lanky 6-10″ 220 lbs. Bill Russell was 6-10″ 215. The extraordinary defensive intelligence, the shot-blocking and rebounding ability. Some differences emerge on offense: Davis is a far more skilled shooter, Russell was a far better facilitator.

But the biggest difference between the two players, at least to date, is in winning mentality. That win at all costs, junkyard dog mentality. Maybe this series will bring that out of Davis, but I haven’t really seen that yet in his career. Just mind-bending talent.

Anthony Davis is going to be guarded in this series, at least to start, by Draymond Green. You’d really have to squint hard to see Bill Russell in Draymond Green’s body. But as far as intangibles go… let’s just say I’ve been toying with this comparison in my mind for a while now. Particularly when Draymond plays center. His ability to transform the playing field on the defensive end, to tilt the universe in the Warriors favor, is like few things I’ve ever seen. Particularly in someone 6-5″.

The conventional wisdom is that Draymond can’t guard AD. I disagree somewhat. First of all, let’s start with this: who in the league has been able to guard AD this season? He’s too quick and athletic, and has too much range for most centers and conventional PFs. Too long for the stretch fours. To really give him trouble, you’d need a young Kevin Garnett, maybe a healthy Ibaka.

So when I say Dray can guard him, I guess I mean, who can guard him better? I think Dray can do a lot of things to limit AD’s game and keep him from dominating. First of all, he can take away his dribble, and make him uncomfortable on the perimeter. If you’ve seen Stephen Jackson guard Nowitzki, or Monta Ellis guard Durant, you know what I mean. Second, with his lower center of gravity and 15 extra pounds he should have no problem keeping AD out of the post. Not that AD wants to play there, anyway. And third and most important, with his quickness and strength, Dray can keep AD off the offensive boards. The same way he keeps DeAndre Jordan off the boards when the Warriors crossmatch.

And how, conversely, does AD do when guarding Draymond? Not real well, by the two game evidence of this season. Playing a stretch-four against AD is the perfect way to diminish his extraordinary defensive impact. He simply doesn’t want to come all the way out to the three point line to guard. And even if he did, that would of course open the lane for the Warriors.

In the two games AD played against the Warriors this season, AD went for 30 and 15, and 29 and 10.

Draymond Green went for 24 and 14, and 14 and 14.

As great as Anthony Davis promises to be in his career, I just don’t see a lot of edge for the Pellies in this matchup. Not even enough to swing one game in the Pellies favor.

Ryan Anderson: Matching up a healthy Ryan Anderson against conventional power forwards is a great idea. That’s worked well over his career. Matching him up against other stretch-fours, and in particular the man-eating Draymond Green, not so much.

I’ve seen enough of the matchup to know that Anderson hates it. There is not another defender in the league who can get so completely up into Anderson’s shirt than Draymond. And he has no counter. Dray is way too quick for him.

And on the other end, Dray goes right by him. The Pellies aren’t going to like this matchup in the slightest.

Tyreke Evans: Longtime readers know I’m not a fan of his game. There’s some recent evidence that he’s playing less unselfishly. We’ll see. One thing I know hasn’t changed is that he has extremely poor court vision. And he’s a terrible outside shooter. 30% from three.

If you’ve seen Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and the Warriors front line completely destroy James Harden this season, can there be any doubt in your mind that they will do the same to Tyreke Evans?

I think Klay Thompson will simply eat him alive.

AD’s going to get his. But what happens to the Pellies if Tyreke Evans is simply removed from the board?

Andrew Bogut: I think Andrew Bogut will also eat Tyreke Evans alive. Evans’ game is based on barreling to the basket and drawing fouls. Not going to happen. Bogut had 9 blocks in the last game.

This will be a theme, unless Monty Williams decides to flip a switch.

The Hail Mary: I do see one way in which Monty Williams can flip the switch on the Warriors, and make this an interesting series. Bench Asik, and play AD 40 minutes at center.

What will this do? Well first of all, it will give the Pellies a chance to run Bogut off the court. Remember Andris Biedrins against Eric Dampier? The moment The Squeaky General benched Dampier was the moment that series ended. And We Believed.

Second, Bogut can’t guard AD out on the floor. No prayer.

Next, I would play Tyreke Evans at power forward. He’ll be giving up 10 pounds but no inches to Draymond, and will have the advantage in quickness.

Move Jrue Holiday into the starting lineup, ready or not. Holiday and Gordon in the backcourt, Pondexter and Evans on the wings, and AD in the middle, no longer required to stretch out to the three point line.

And run like the wind.

Now I’m interested. That’s a series I’d like to watch. What can the Warriors do to combat this? Bogut can’t punish Davis in the post, and certainly can’t run with him. Even if the Warriors went small, with Dray at center, there’s a big difference between asking Dray to guard Davis at the four, with Bogut behind him, and asking him to guard him at the five, with no big man help. The Warriors wouldn’t have the edge in team speed, with the Pellies having the smaller backcourt. They wouldn’t have the edge in size, or rebounding. Perhaps not even in defense. Anthony Davis at center is a formidable proposition.

This is how the Pellies might match up best against the Warriors juggernaut. Probably won’t happen. I don’t think Monty Williams has either the chops or the balls to make it happen.

But Gregg Popovich is Monty’s mentor. And Don Nelson is Gregg Popovich’s close playoff collaborator, as Scott Ostler has informed us. Both Pop and Nelly would make this move in a heartbeat. And Pop has a strong interest in slowing the Warriors progress. Very strong.

Maybe someone will make a call.

27 Responses to Let’s Get Ready to Scrimmage: Warriors Sweep Pelicans

  1. Very useful out-of-the-box thinking. That would be fun. And the Warriors could counter by playing Ezeli more, who can run with AD or at least much better than Bogut, along with spells of Green at center on AD. And all kind of other fun match-ups, but still the Warriors sweep.

  2. I commented but seemed to have lost but here goes again.

    Felt, Very well written. Lot of great one liners over there. My favorite:

    “Stephen Curry is not normal circumstances.”

    I also agree with you and have been saying that Green should guard A Davis for a good chunck of the game. But, that would leave RAndersen who is still dangerous to be guarded by someone else. Who is going to guard him on the peremeter ? That would have to be Barnes. Hope Barnes is up to task.

    One slight disagreement, I think Holiday and Andersen will be more ready than you think. In all, 4-1 series is my prediction but think 4 out of 5 games would be close ones, i.e. <10 margin.

  3. The Spurs game still gives pause. Though inconsistent, Coles, Poindexter, and Evans can put up numbers. Maybe Holiday and Anderson will find something for the playoffs. If they get in sync, they could cause problems. And they have no reason not to come out firing and playing all out in the first round.

    Hard to believe Kerr won’t try to manage what should be a lengthy playoff run and still limit minutes somewhat. The previous years, the Warriors played all out themselves—and got worn down and banged up in the process. Which means they could still run into problems with the subs, where they don’t have a consistent scorer. Also his sub patterns have been indecisive and schizophrenic at times. If he plays what he thinks is a good defensive rotation, they may get into a hole and push minutes for the starters.

    Finding scorers off the bench may be the key to a good run, and now is the time to get them going.

  4. From ESPN:

    “Sources told ESPN.com that, based on current projections, league officials expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1 million figure to $67.1 million next season, $89 million in 2016-17, and $108 million in 2017-18.”

    TV revenues. Lacob may yet wheel and deal in the years to come. Next season, however, will still be tight, unless they get some more unexpected breaks.

  5. If we’re guessing about coaching, let’s talk about ways the Ws can lose this series.

    NO starts Asik, AD, and Anderson. Kerr starts Barnes on AD.

    Really, my only concern about this series is whether or not Kerr has figured out how little Barnes has to contribute on D. If I’m New Orleans, I want Barnes on the floor a whole lot.

    • cosmicballoon

      Hat, I think it’s clear that Kerr doesn’t think much of Barnes 4th Q defense, except in certain matchups. Kerr’s favorite finishing lineups are Curry, Klay, Iggy, Dray and Bogut or Curry, Klay, Iggy, Barnes and Dray.

      It really does depend on the matchup.

      Barnes won’t guard AD for long, if at all in this series. Anderson is a fine matchup for Barnes, and he can even take some time on Evans as long as Bogut is behind him. The more jump shots Evans takes in this series, the better off the Warriors are going to be.

  6. cosmicballoon

    Feltbot –Do you anticipate Curry being bullied in this series? Obviously playoff basketball slows down a bit, and teams try to do anything to win. I look at NO roster and don’t really see anyone who can get up in Curry’s jock, nor anyone who is willing to be the bad guy and start launching elbows at Curry’s head.

    • By who? Listening to the radio today, I learned that Monty tried Pondexter on Curry a bit in the last game. We may see more of that, but QPon has never been on my radar as a particularly good defender.

  7. I wrote this piece at speed this morning, and just rewrote the last section to expand on my smallball thoughts a bit. It could be where this series is eventually headed.

  8. On this eve before the playoffs, all the children are tucked in their beds , with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, not a creature stirring , not even a mouse..
    Apologies but I’m pretty excited. I’m old enough to trust my own observations and I’m feeling good about the Dubs. I’m just gonna talk about what scares me now

    LeBrons at the top of the list
    Kawaii and the spurs frighten me
    An open Ashton Korver teeing up a 3 sends shivers down my spine

    Overall the Hawks just don’t scare me

    A healthy Westbrook and KD would’ve spooked me. Maybe next year. Hope KD makes it all the way back

    I got over my fear of the Rockets earlier this year

    The Bulls scare on paper. Real life, don’t think we’ll see them all in tiptop shape at the same time

    ADavis is a great player. I’m just not quivering at the thought of the Pcuns though

    That’s about it

    Think how other teams and fans feel about facing Steph. He’s Freddy Krugers crazier brother. If Klay goes Pinhead like the original Hellraiser, we’ll have that victory parade somewhere. Maybe a neutral site

  9. For those interested in playoff wagers, I like Houston v Dallas and Spurs v Clippers at the price. I also have a sneaking suspicion Conley is too injured to be effective, and think the Blazers might be worth a very small flyer getting 2 to 1.

  10. I’m drinkin a hi-life and going through the old posts, I got a chuckle when u admitted you watched Kenny Smiths reality show, Rgg. When I asked who was gonna watch it was a slanderous rhetorical question, and I got an answer! Wasn’t sure if it was real or a”joke segment” involving Ernie and Shaq. Was it any good? Don’t tell me you’ve ever watched a Real Housewives

    Agree with you 100% Feltbot that if you’re an opposing coach you put length on Steph.

    • I caught it flipping channels. I gave it two minutes.

      • I gotta admit I’ve watched some housewives. But I’ve been “forced” to as my brothers wife eats this stuff up and she’ll be in possession of the remote. It’s her house. One of the wives caught my eye and I had to investigate. Her names Kenya Moore and she’s a former Ms. Detroit. Wow
        I was just watching a little Tor-wash, impassively. Patrick Patterson shoots a 3 and stands there with his arm frozen, statue-of-liberty style, admiring his shot like he’s Steph curry or something. He missed. How about doing something useful like following your shot, or getting back on D? This is the pkayoffs. Ign of the times, I guess. Turned that one off pretty quick

  11. I have to post this just in case it comes true. I had a very vivid dream last night in which a Pelicans player was forced out of bounds and ended up seated on a bench players lap. Andrew Boguts momentum also took him out of bounds and he, either inadverntly or not, elbowed the player square in the forehead. A major scrum broke out involving Bogut and AD, and I was yelling at Bogut because he wouldn’t desist and I was worried he’d be suspended. Scarily realistic dream..

    It ended before the game 1 winner was revealed

  12. Didn’t know if anyone saw this, so here’s a repeat post.

    Here’s a really cool graphic of Steph’s 3-point shooting this season, compared to other 3-pt leaders, starting in December. The y-axis is 3-point percent, x-axis is 3-point makes, bubble size is 3-point attempts.

    Here’s the article:

    http://regressing.deadspin.com/steph-curry-even-looks-fast-on-a-chart-1698504467

    A couple of interesting things:

    – Curry’s completion totals eclipsed everyone in the league, and Thompson finished 2nd. A jump-shooting team, oh yes.

    – Korver’s %age is completely amazing, a game-warping offensive threat that has to be accounted for at all times.

    – Curry’s completion percentage rose while he increased his attempts per game. That’s highly unusual. Players who shoot “too much” see their %age go down. Not Curry. He’s getting better shots while taking more. Or perhaps a better way of saying that is that he’s shooting more because he’s getting (or creating) more, and better, opportunities to shoot. He keeps getting better. A scary dude.

  13. Concur with the sweep, and also agree that the Pelicans with AD at the 5 playing small ball should be an incredible offensive team, however defensively they’d be quite the mystery. But without having actually played minutes together, I doubt they can instantaneously gel and create something meaningful. Perhaps next season.

  14. Pop on the CSN pre-game stated Wiiliams consulting with Popovich preparing for this series.

    On a lighter note, Green, in addition to his B-ball skills is rated the team’s best dancer by his team mates.

  15. Still think Warriors sweep Pelicans, Felt? Pace definitely slows to a crawl in the playoffs and exposes how reliant Warriors are on fastbreak points to contribute to their total points per game. Curry and Green looked gassed in the 4th and the Warriors officially have no answer for Davis. We can only hope Green and Bogut’s offensive output negate Davis and Asik/Ajinca’s.

    • And Livingston shown a total failure as a Curry sub. During the post game podium, Kerr says he likes the Curry-Livingston-Thompson combo, which he said was why he had him in the game. I will look at Popcorn to see if Livingston was in the game at any point without Curry or Livingston.

      Curry, Thompson, and Green will play 40+ min/game and Bogut 30+ during this and subsequent series. Can they take it and be effective?

      And how effective will hacking Iguodala and Bogut become?

      Williams caught on to that real quick.

      Sorry for being such a Cassandra.

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