Tim Duncan

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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