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How the Warriors Swept the Pelicans

At the beginning of the Warriors-Pelicans series, I picked Golden State to win in six games. I surmised that the better team would indeed come out victorious, but the eighth-seeded squad on the rise would put up some type of fight. But when Game 4 rolled in on Saturday night, it seemed like the inevitable had no chance of being delayed. That’s strictly because of what had transpired in the prior game.

The Dubs completed the sweep of their opponent with a 109-98 victory and put an end to the Pelicans’ season. Stephen Curry imposed his will in this game, scoring a game-high 39 points, including 6-of-8 from downtown. Draymond Green was shunned of the Defensive Player of the Year award, but he played at a high level throughout the series and was especially great in Game 4. He just missed a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. The Warriors’ Big Three combined for 86 points.

Golden State may have dominated Game 4 and won the series in four games, but the series was plenty competitive, even if the underdog never really had a chance. A late-game surge by the Pelicans in Game 1 of the series made things interesting right off the bat, and New Orleans was in position to possibly steal Game 2 before faltering down the stretch.

In retrospect, the Pelicans’ failure to execute late in games kept the series from being even more competitive than it already was. The issues in crunch time in Game 2 were bad, but they paled in comparison to what happened at home in Game 3.

When you’re a college student taking an exam with a bunch of easy questions and you still manage to fail, that’s bad news. What does that tell you about how your semester is going?

New Orleans might know a little something about bad news telling the story about a precarious, yet inevitable situation. When an MVP candidate in Curry shoots an abysmal 10-of-29 from the field, and you somehow allow him to still crush your dreams, what does that say about your chances in the series?

The Pelicans entered the fourth quarter of Game 3 with what seemed to be an insurmountable lead of 20 points. Even the NBA’s best team couldn’t come back from this in only 12 minutes, right? Well, history said that this was nearly impossible for Golden State, detailed by the team’s 0-358 record when trailing by 20 going into the last period.

The Warriors were poised to lose their first game of the postseason. They didn’t seem to have enough splash on this night down in New Orleans. But then, an incredible, historic comeback took place and had social media in an absolute frenzy. That last quarter for the Warriors was indeed GOLDEN. On the strength of 10 offensive rebounds, five Pelicans turnovers and Curry’s uncanny shot-making ability, Golden State joined the 2002 Celtics and 2012 Clippers as the only three teams in NBA playoff history to overcome that big of a deficit in the fourth quarter.

We didn’t see an immaculate display of basketball prowess from either team, but what we did see was a team go on an incredible run to take a commanding 3-0 lead in this series, leaving no hope for New Orleans.

For the life of them, New Orleans just couldn’t seem to be able to corral a rebound, and it really burned them when the Warriors finally tied the game. Curry’s game-tying three-point shot might have been the biggest shot of the game, but it doesn’t happen if the Pelicans grab the rebound after Curry initially missed. Making matters worse, why wasn’t Marreese Speights fouled after grabbing that key offensive rebound so he couldn’t get the ball back out to Curry? Those types of inexcusable lapses in judgment happened far too often late in that game and left me scratching my head.

In Game 4, you never really got the feeling that New Orleans could even steal a single game on its home floor. It was similar to when the Spurs lost Game 6 in the 2013 Finals. The heartbreaking debacle of a loss was so mentally taxing, and the residual effects from Game 3 would tell the story the rest of the way.

Going forward, the Pelicans will look to lock up Anthony Davis to a max contract and surround him with the ideal pieces, particularly individuals who can deliver from beyond the arc.

The Warriors are on to bigger and better things as they look to continue their path to an NBA title. That Game 3 comeback helped give Golden State some extra rest, because I believe this series would still be going on if that didn’t happen. But that didn’t manifest itself, and the Dubs are sitting at home doing scouting reports on both the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers.

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