For the second time in the NBA's opening week, the New Orleans Pelicans are faced with the daunting task of putting their under-manned roster against the NBA champions Golden State Warriors. In the first meeting last Tuesday, the Warriors received their rings in front of an adoring crowd at Oracle Arena, and proceeded to run roughshod all over the Pelicans behind reigning League MVP Stephen Curry and his 40-point, six-rebound, and seven-assist performance. However, on Saturday evening, the Pelicans host the Warriors in their respective home opener and seek a different result.
On the Pelicans' end, without Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Norris Cole, and Omer Asik, the NBA's newest $100-plus million man Anthony Davis struggled to carry the load. Davis had 18 points on 20 shots, and against last year's Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Draymond Green, he started 1 of 14 from the floor.
The very next night, the Pelicans again came up well short against the Portland Trail Blazers, who lost four out of five starters in the last offseason, punctuated by the departure of All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge who signed with the San Antonio Spurs. New starter C.J. McCollum lit up the Pelicans for 37 points in his season debut, and the Blazers scored a double-digit victory against the Pelicans despite the season debut of starting point guard Jrue Holiday.
Even in this disappointing result against the Blazers, Anthony Davis had a superb bounce-back effort from his lackluster performance against the Warriors. Davis scored 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds, and added two steals and two blocked shots.
Against the Houston Rockets, the Warriors had another statement win as they racked their second double-digit victory in as many games against their Western Conference Finals opponent, whom they held to under 37 percent shooting, and 5 of 23 from the three-point line. Curry had 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in 27 minutes as his club rolled again.
Curry and the Warriors should look to build on their strong start against the Pelicans. It should be interesting to see whether Curry, in particular, continues his run of dominance against the Pelicans. In each of his last three games against New Orleans, the MVP has scored 39 or more points. Former Warriors assistant and current Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry raved about Curry, saying, "Some of those shots that Steph made, it doesn't matter who's out there, that's just who he is."
For the Pelicans, the goal is to get off to better starts. Against Portland in particular, their slow start made it difficult to overcome the onslaught led by McCollum and All-Star point guard and face of the franchise Damian Lillard. As Holiday works his way into the offense and defense, look for the Pelicans to find a better rhythm.
The Warriors appear to be on a mission to make a statement to anyone who ignores them as viable championship contenders, and that combined with the Pelicans' injury setbacks points to a closer game in New Orleans, but ultimately Curry and his compatriots may be too much to overcome.