Warriors’ Road to the Finals: Ideal Playoff Scenarios

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Dec 4, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard

Klay Thompson

(11) drives in against New Orleans Pelicans forward

Anthony Davis

(23) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans willed themselves into the postseason with a win over the Spurs to lock in the eighth seed. Anthony Davis’ game winning buzzer beater over Oklahoma City earlier in the year proved to be the deciding factor to propel New Orleans into the playoffs.

The Pelicans notched notable wins against elite opponents this season including victories over the Grizzlies, Rockets, Spurs, Cavaliers, and the Warriors themselves. The Warriors took home a 3-1 regular season record against New Orleans, but now they face a hungry underdog looking to make some noise.

The Pelicans suffered through an injury-riddled season with Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon going down at different times. However, we can expect to see them ready to play on Saturday. It’s hard to gauge just how good a fully healthy Pelicans squad can be. The Pelicans rank fourth in three-point percentage and feature very capable scorers who can space the floor in Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter. Tyreke Evans picked up the slack at the point while Holiday was out and is averaging a respectable 16.6 points per game while dishing out 6.5 assists. Evans is an important playmaker who is able to use his physical strength to barrel into the paint. Jrue Holiday, fresh off a leg injury, will likely provide quality minutes, but his impact should be minimal considering the strength of Golden State’s defense and the amount of games he’s missed.

The player that the Warriors absolutely should be worried about is Anthony Davis. At only 22 years of age, Davis is already a budding superstar on both ends of the floor. He anchors the entire defense and offense for New Orleans. In only his third year in the NBA, he’s putting up insane numbers, averaging 24.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.2 assists.

The Warriors will probably be unable to shut him down completely but Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut must absolutely contain his impact. The Pelicans are no pushovers and will absolutely put up a fight against the Warriors, but ultimately Golden State’s experience and cohesiveness should allow them to handle New Orleans in Round 1.

Next: Semifinals