The Warriors (67-15) dominated the Western Conference in Steve Kerr’s rookie season as coach. The team is led by guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and are the favorites to represent the conference in the Finals. The competitiveness of this series depends on the play of Anthony Davis and the Pelicans’ team defense (Golden State averaged a league leading 110 points per game during the regular season) as New Orleans surrendered an average of 98.6 points per game.
Golden State players to watch
Stephen Curry (23.8 points per game, 48.7 field goal percentage, 44.3 3-point percentage, 91.4 free throw percentage and 7.7 assists per game), Klay Thompson (21.7 points per game, 46.3 field goal percentage, 43.9 3-point percentage, 87.9 free throw percentage, 3.2 rebounds per game and 2.9 assists per game), Harrison Barnes (10.3 points per game, 48.2 field goal percentage, 40.5 3-point percentage, 72 free throw percentage, 5.5 rebounds per game and four assists a game), Draymond Green (11.7 points per game, 44.3 field goal percentage, 66 free throw percentage, 8.2 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game and 1.6 steals per game) and Andrew Bogut (6.3 points per game, 56.3 field goal percentage, 8.1 rebounds per game and 2.7 assists per game) is the projected starting lineup for the top team in the West.
Golden State bench
Festus Ezeli (4.4 points per game, 54.7 field goal percentage, 62.8 free throw percentage and 3.4 rebounds per game), Leandro Barbosa (7.1 points per game, 47.4 field goal percentage, 38.4 3-point percentage, 78.4 free throw percentage and 1.5 assists per game), Andre Iguodala (7.8 points per game, 46.6 field goal percentage, 3.3 rebounds per game and three assists per game), Marreese Speights (10.4 points per game, 49.2 field goal percentage, 84.3 free throw percentage and 4.3 rebounds per game) and David Lee (7.9 points per game, 51.1 field goal percentage, 65.4 free throw percentage, 5.2 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game) were key members of Golden State’s bench during the season and I believe it will remain the same during this series.
New Orleans (47-35) overcame moments of inconsistent play while forward Anthony Davis was out with injuries during the season. This is the Pelicans’ first playoff appearance since 2011.
New Orleans players to watch
Davis (24.4 points per game, 53.5 field goal percentage, 80.5 free throw percentage and 10.2 rebounds per game), Anderson (13.7 points per game, 39.9 field goal percentage, 85 free throw percentage, 4.8 rebounds per game and 34 percent 3-point percentage), Tyreke Evans (16.6 points per game, 44.7 field goal percentage 69 free throw percentage 5.3 rebounds per game, 6.6 assists per game), Jrue Holiday (14.8 points per game, 44.6 field goal percentage 85.5 free throw percentage, 3.4 rebounds per game and 6.9 assists per game ) and Eric Gordan (13.4 points per game, 41.1 field goal percentage, 80.5 free throw percentage, 2.6 rebounds per game, 3.8 assists per game and 44.8 3-point percentage) are players to watch for New Orleans in this series.
New Orleans bench
Quincy Pondexter (7.2 points per game, 42.1 field goal percentage, 74 free throw percentage, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists), Dante Cunningham (5.2 points per game, 45.7 field goal percentage, 61.7 free throw percentage and 3.9 rebounds per game), Norris Cole (7.7 points per game, 41.2 field goal percentage, 71.6 free throw percentage), and Omer Asik (7.3 points per game, 51.7 field goal percentage, 58.2 free throw percentage and 9.8 rebounds per game) are bench players to monitor for the Pelicans during the series.
My prediction: The Pelicans can challenge the Warriors both with their size on the perimeter and in the paint, but I see the Warriors winning the series in six games.
Information used in this story was gathered from each team’s website.
Game 1: Saturday, New Orleans at Golden State, 2:30 p.m. CT (ABC)
Game 2: Monday, New Orleans at Golden State, 9:30 p.m. CT
Game 3: Thu. April 23, Golden State at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. CT
Game 4: Sat. April 25, Golden State at New Orleans, 7 p.m. CT (ESPN)
*Game 5: Tue. April 28, New Orleans at Golden State, TBD
*Game 6: Fri. May 1, Golden State at New Orleans, TBD
*Game 7: Sun. May 3, New Orleans at Golden State, TBD