Monty Williams

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We let the news of Monty Williams’ exit sink in for a day before writing this post. I wanted to get the feelings and opinions around the league before diving into this topic. I have never been a hater of Monty Williams, but he has sometimes struggled in late-game situations and got swept in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs this season. However, I’m not entirely on board with the latest decision from the Pelicans organization. In this post, we’ll briefly cover the career Monty had in New Orleans, discuss this past season, how the organization’s been plagued with injuries and what the future holds for the birds from the Crescent City.

The move to fire Monty Williams came somewhat of a surprise around the league but it has always been a looming possibility around New Orleans. Monty brought the Pelicans to the playoffs for the first time since they drafted Anthony Davis four years ago. For the first time in its young franchise’s history, the Pelicans had made the postseason. You may be thinking that it was all Anthony Davis, and Monty had nothing to do with it, but you’d be wrong. Kinda.

Obviously, Anthony Davis had an absolute breakout season and is now widely regarded as the world of basketball’s next big thing but Monty had a lot to do with it. Pelicans went 45-37 this season, which is the best in franchise history, and they did it with guys missing games due to injuries (more on that later). The season ultimately ended after a 20 point deficit was quickly erased in Game 3 against the No. 1 seeded Golden State Warriors. It was a flat out embarrassment in front of a spirited New Orleans crowd. That game in particular could’ve been Monty’s undoing, and I think that is completely unfair. You cannot place blame on a coach for allowing 14 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. That’s on the toughness of the players on the court and just a pure lack of tenacity and postseason experience. I believe Monty’s future is bright wherever he goes because it seems that every ex-Hornet/Pelican sees greener pastures when they leave (cough cough Austin Rivers). Monty has coached with Team USA, San Antonio Spurs and will now be looking towards leading the Orlando Magic or Denver Nuggets this offseason.

Injuries have been the constant thorn in Monty’s tenure as the head coach. In five seasons, he has never truly had a lineup at full strength for the duration of the season. We all know the history of Eric Gordon. Recently we have seen Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday catch the injury bug and sidelined them for most of both last season and this season. This year alone, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon missed a combined 98 games. Jrue missed 42 games this season. Injuries have been an unfortunate trend for the Pelicans and who knows how good this young squad could’ve been at full strength? I know that they wouldn’t have had to play the Warriors in the first round at least.

There are many coaches on the horizon and the youthful talent is abundant in the Big Easy. Offseason moves should only involve finding a new coaching staff because I truly believe that the Pelicans should build from within and try to form a nucleus of young talent and gain experience together. Staying healthy will ultimately bring success to this up-and-coming franchise and I’m very excited to see the progression of Anthony Davis unfold right before our eyes. First, we need to sign that man and get him the coach he wants.

Here are the possibilities:

Tom Thibodeau

This is the choice that makes the most sense to everyone around the league on paper. Thibodeau has coached Anthony Davis in the Team USA circuit and has brought great success to the Chicago Bulls. Thibodeau preaches toughness both offensively and defensively and will play his guys upwards of 40 minutes a game. He is currently down 3-2 against the LeBron James-led Cavs and I believe he sees the light at the end of the tunnel with the Bulls. He would be a good fit with the Pelicans and could bring valuable postseason experience to the young squad.

John Calipari

John Calipari has solidified himself as the greatest recruiter in college basketball history. He had the most talented Kentucky team maybe ever in the realm of college basketball and gathers talent annually. He has also coached Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans during their college careers. Not sure if Cal has the X’s and O’s yet for the NBA but he would sure bring excitement and a completely new identity to New Orleans.

Mark Jackson

I think Mark Jackson is an exceptional players’ coach. What I mean by that is that he would be completely adored by the players and organization. He is a fun guy to be around on and off the court but is in the same ballpark as Monty when it comes to calling set plays and running a fluid offense.

Scott Brooks

Brooks did a fine job with the Oklahoma City Thunder. You can always tell that he had his players’ backs on and off the court. He struggled with injuries all year which ultimately cost him his job. The Thunder failed to make the postseason this year and it was simply because Kevin Durant was sidelined for most of the year. He falls into the same category as Mark Jackson. Brooks had exceptional talent but couldn’t exactly wrangle them in to play his style of ball.

Alvin Gentry

Alvin Gentry currently is being courted by the Chicago Bulls but that doesn’t mean anything at this point in time. Gentry is currently assisting under Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors and has seen tremendous success this season. He runs an uptempo style offensively which would go swimmingly for the New Orleans Pelicans. He has had some postseason success and has miles of coaching experience as he is nearing the age of 60. I believe Gentry is the dark-horse candidate for the New Orleans Pelicans and I think he would do wonders for the organization.

Whichever way the Pelicans decide to go, I hope it makes Anthony Davis happy. He is the true future of the franchise and management should make their decision based off his opinions.

But for now, farewell Monty. You are a classy man on and off the court and you will be sorely missed. Watch an interview from WWL below:

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Pelicans Make The Playoffs!

by Jordan McGuire on April 16, 2015

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In front of a red and sold out Smoothie King Center, the Anthony Davis-led Pelicans achieved an incredible playoff berth against all odds. The New Orleans Pelicans punched their playoff party ticket on the final day of the NBA regular season with a 108-103 against the San Antonio Spurs. Pelicans will match-up against the No. 1 seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

In the biggest game of the Pelicans’ young franchise they played with emotion, energy, togetherness and mental toughness. They had a 23 point led at one point during the game and held on to win by a mere five points. It was without a doubt the biggest win of Anthony Davis and Monty Williams’ career as Pelicans. “We went to AD down the stretch and he came through on both ends of the floor,” Monty Williams said. The two were emotional after the victory and Davis expressed his love for his head coach.

Tony Parker had an outstanding first half and scored a team high 23 points and Boris Diaw finished with 20 points. The loss for the Spurs dropped them to the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. If they would’ve won last night, they would’ve knocked the Pelicans out of playoff contention and secured the No. 2 seed.

Anthony Davis finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Tyreke Evans played well down the stretch scoring 19 points and dishing out 11 assists. A huge second half shooting performance helped Eric Gordon scoring 14 points. Also, big performance from the energetic Norris Cole both offensively and defensively. The flat-top Cleveland State alum scored a quick 10 points off the bench making his first 5-6 shots. He also did an outstanding job defending San Antonio’s backcourt.

And I’d like to thank Jrue Holiday for coming back and guarding, scoring and ultimately leading on the court. Jrue did a phenomenal job shutting down Tony Parker in the second half limiting him to tough driving lanes and forcing him to pick up his dribble.

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I’ll close with the greatest quote I’ve ever heard from future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, who added 15 points and 10 rebounds, reprinted here from an ESPN interview:

“We’re happy for him, very happy for him,” Tim Duncan said about Monty Williams. “He’s worked his butt off over these past couple years. Obviously, I wanted to win and that didn’t change anything, but I guess I get some solace in the fact that he made the playoffs.”

Actually I’ll close with this:

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Spurs are favored by five points tonight at the Smoothie King Center. They are also fighting for the two seed in the Western Conference. They are also the reigning champs of the basketball world. They have also won 11 games in a row.

But they aren’t fighting for their lives and aren’t one win away from making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The complexity of the Western Conference Playoff standings is so difficult that I had to run to Reddit to gather all the scenarios. Simplified, Pels advance with a victory against the Spurs, which is possible, or an OKC loss to the Timberwolves, which is incredibly unlikely.

The Pelicans won Monday night in Minnesota 100-88. Anthony Davis went for 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in the victory. With that win the Pelicans were one step closer to paradise, yet the Thunder managed to beat Portland causing the fate of the playoff dream to come down to one final game.

With a win, the Spurs will finish as the No. 2 seed. With a loss, the Spurs could drop as far as the No. 6 seed. This isn’t necessarily a “must-win” scenario for the Spurs, but this game definitely garners significant weight.

The New Orleans Pelicans have won two out of three meetings with the Spurs this year and the lone loss was when Omer Asik inadvertently tipped in the winning basket in his own basket. In these three meetings, Anthony Davis has averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game.

This could very well be a “make-or-break” game for perennial hot seat head coach Monty Williams. In an interview with ESPN, Williams said, “We get to play the champs on our home floor, our crowd should be crazy and our guys should have a good time with it.”

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Keys to the Game:

Out rebound and out hustle the Spurs. Pelicans front court of Davis and Asik need to grab both offensive and defensive boards and limit the Spurs to one and done possessions in order to win this game. Limit Duncan’s touches and keep San Antonio big men off of the offensive glass.

Keep Tony Parker out of the lane. Tony Parker will get the likes of Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole and hopefully Jrue Holiday tonight. Monty Williams does a good job of rotating able defenders to neutralize opposing stars. Pels must create physical match-ups with Tony Parker and keep him from getting our bigs in foul trouble or slicing through the lane for easy layups.

Ryan Anderson needs to hit shots early. The Flamethrower has been in somewhat of a shooting slump since his return. He has all the right offensive moves and footwork but needs to cash in with big buckets early to gain confidence. Also, Ryno, if you’re reading this, take a step closer and toe the three point line. There has been way too many opportunities wasted when a wide open three pointer comes up short simply because it is shot from four feet beyond the arc.

The crowd must be in every possession and supporting the Pelicans for the entirety of the game. Don’t get too low, don’t get too high. Know that the Spurs are one of the best teams in basketball. The crowd must have a playoff like atmosphere and will hopefully be close to full capacity.

Come support the Pelicans for their final game of the regular season. They will take on the San Antonio Spurs at 7pm.

 

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PREVIEW: Pelicans Host The Warriors

by Jordan McGuire on April 7, 2015

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“Her life is in your hands, Dude. Mr. Lebowski asked me to repeat that: Her life is in your hands, Dude.” That’s what Coach Monty Williams is telling Anthony Davis about the Pelicans’ season-ending stretch. Every game counts as the Pelicans control their own destiny to make that coveted eighth spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Tonight the Pelicans will host the three-point assassins of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. Led by the best shooting back court in NBA history, the Warriors are sitting pretty atop the Western Conference throne with an astonishing record of 63-14.

A little over a week ago, the New Orleans Pelicans were slotted 3.5 games behind the Russell Westbro– I mean, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now the birds from the Crescent City are a mere .5 game back and own a tiebreaker over the Thunder, thanks to a buzzer beating, three point heroic shot from a mint condition Anthony Davis.

Luckily for the Pels, Oklahoma City has lost three in a row and have dropped five of their last six games. Another reason to count our blessings is the fact that the reigning champs and the golden godfathers of the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, visit Oklahoma City tonight. We’ve all just become Spurs fans and fans of all teams that oppose the Thunder for the remainder of the season.

Now let’s get to the juicy preview. Pelicans will have to learn how to defend the quick hitters and the three point bombardment that will inevitably take place tonight at the Smoothie King Center. The Warriors won the last meeting between the two 112-96. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the injury-ridden Pelicans were without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik.

The long anticipated wait for Jrue Holiday is still a mystery. The young guns will undoubtedly have to sink deep down and defend well on the perimeter in order to win against the Warriors. The game will be played at a fast pace but the Pelicans will likely want to slow down and take the air out of the ball to limit fast break or quick shot opportunities for the Warriors. Steve Kerr has his guys trained to get open looks on the run and shoot at will when they’re falling. Match-up issues will be present on both ends of the court tonight as an undersized Eric Gordon might have to guard Klay Thompson, and an undersized Steph Curry might have to guard Tyreke Evans. This is where the key signing of Dante Cunningham and the acquisition of Quincy “Q-Pon” Pondexter come into play.

These two, along with Norris Cole, were absolute dynamite moves on the defensive side of the ball for Dell Demps and the Pelicans. Offensively, Pondexter has showed an amazing improvement to his outside game and has done an excellent job filling the role that Ryan Anderson has given the Pelicans time and time again. But defensively, Cunningham and Pondexter can guard everyone on the court except the center. They have done remarkable jobs keeping quick guards at bay and are able to defend and rebound in the same possession. Also the hustle is what makes them both so insanely likable. Both utility swing-men will play pivotal roles tonight as they both could guard anyone from Steph Curry all the way to Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.

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Keys to the Game:

Play fast. But not too fast. Pelicans have the ability to run up and down with almost anybody in the NBA, but they don’t want to bite off more than they can chew with the Dubs from Golden State. If the Tyreke-led break can result in a quick layup or a penetrate and kick to Pondexter or Anderson trailing the break I say take it. Not only does Golden State have the most efficient offense in the league but they defend better than anyone in the NBA in the half-court.

Hedge high on every ball screen. The defensive rotation must be flawless when Steph Curry orchestrates the pick and roll. Defenders must hedge high and force Curry off the three-point line and force him to make plays dishing to rolling big men. We must make David Lee and Andrew Bogut beat us rather than letting MVP-candidate Curry to get going. Anthony Davis and Omer Asik must get quality interior rotation to limit free lanes to the basket and create difficult shots at the rim.

Feed Anthony Davis early and often. Whomever Steve Kerr puts on Anthony Davis is a match-up issue in my opinion. I don’t think anyone on the Warriors has the ability to lock down Davis. I can’t imagine David Lee trying to guard Davis 20 feet from the basket. Blowing by defenders is what Anthony Davis needs to do and then obviously knock down open jumpers. When the fourth quarter comes around, hopefully the fans will be on their feet chanting “MVP, MVP, MVP” when Anthony Davis steps to the line to solidify the much needed home victory.

Come support the Pelicans tonight at the Smoothie King Center at 7pm. After tonight, the Pelicans travel to division rival and currently third seed in the West the Memphis Grizzlies.

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"Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried"

Shooting an atrocious 32-82 (39%) from the field and 3-15 (20%) from beyond the arc isn’t going to get you many wins. The Pelicans failed to knock down open shots and weren’t able to get to that fifth straight win Wednesday night against the underwhelming Denver Nuggets squad.

The Denver Nuggets snapped a seven-game losing streak as they took care of the Pelicans 93-85. The Afflalo-led Nuggets hit timely threes (10-17) throughout the game to pace them to victory. Ty Lawson had 13 assists to go along with Afflalo’s 20 points.

The Denver Nuggets came rushing out of the gate outscoring the Pelicans 28-17 in the first quarter. The lead ended up getting almost out-of-hand when Denver extended its lead to sixteen in the first half.

Anthony Davis was the only bright spot in the first half for the Pelicans. He had a quick fifteen points while Eric Gordon missed his first nine shots on his way to a 4-15 shooting night. Davis was the Pelicans only scorer in double figures going into halftime.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, Tyreke Evans exploded onto the scoring scene. Tyreke finished with a game-high 25 points, 20 of which came in the second half. Although it took the 6’6 point guard twenty-two shots to get to twenty-five points he showed his dominating prowess to get to the rim and score.

Things got eerily quiet in the Smoothie King Center when All-Star starter Anthony Davis went down and was helped off of the court. In 37 minutes of play Davis finished 8-15 from the floor for 24 points and 12 rebounds, another effortlessly dominating performance.

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Davis finally returned in the fourth to a standing ovation from a relieved crowd. Emotions were running high for the Crescent City crowd but the New Orleans Pelicans weren’t able to get the job done and ultimately being outscored 23-15 in the final quarter of play. Monty Williams told ESPN, “I just didn’t like the way he looked,” Williams said. “You can’t risk guys’ careers. He wants to be out there. Anyone would tell you that.” Davis will have an MRI today.

If we as fans can take anything positive from this game it is that we had an abysmal shooting night and the Nuggets had a great one and we only lost by single digits. In order to continue their recent success, Ryan Anderson needs to become a more consistent shooter/scorer and Eric Gordon must know and find his role on this team. Gordon has been a catalyst in the Pelicans’ recent good fortunes but needs to continue to be the third or fourth scoring option.

Tyreke Evans showed great scoring ability again but only dished out two assists. I’m thrilled to have Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter suiting up as the Pelicans swingmen. They both will quickly play into their roles and help the Pelicans both offensively and defensively and will bring great energy every time they step onto the floor.

The Pelicans must string together multiple wins at a time in order to eek their way into the Western Conference Playoffs. Things won’t get any easier as the play host to the Chris Paul-led Clippers Friday night at 7pm. Fans will get a glimpse of the former Pelicans tenth overall pick, Austin Rivers in his new Clippers attire.

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