For those who missed Golden State finish off New Orleans, I ask: did you watch Game 1 of this series last weekend? If yes, then you also saw Game 4.
The Warriors made a push to end the first quarter and grab a seven point lead. The Pelicans kept pace during Steph Curry’s stint on the bench, while Golden State turned on the jets upon his return and led by as much as 24 in the third quarter. The resilient Pellies made a late charge, but never really threatened, thanks to daggers from Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Pelicans simply didn’t have enough good players to keep up with a juggernaut like the Warriors. Steve Kerr complemented his opponent’s balance after the game, but on this night, New Orleans was a two-man band. Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon scored 19 of their team’s first 22 points, and Davis posted nine of the team’s mere 13 third-quarter points. While Davis (36) and Gordon (29) combined for 65 points, no other Pelican had more than five points entering the fourth quarter, which began with Golden State up 88-67.
New Orleans never threw in the towel, though it was clear that their fighting spirit had been damaged. Once sure they were still in the series, just a play here and there away from snagging one of the first two in Oracle Arena, the Pelicans were still competing, just without that intensity of a team that believed they had a chance in the series. Unsurprisingly, New Orleans made a run when they finally got contributions from the likes of Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Dante Cunningham.
The problem was, as mentioned, the Splash Brothers refused to let a run last.
Cunningham tip-in to cut the lead to 14? No problem: Curry hits a three.
Gordon nails a three to bring the Pellies within ten… only to have back-to-back jumpers from Curry and Thompson push it back to 14.
Davis hit a short face-up jumper to get it back to ten, to which Curry responded by a hitting a deep two with Brow’s hand in his face.
The final strike came as New Orleans tried to foul and stop the clock, except a trapped Curry passed to Draymond Green, who found a cutting Andre Iguodala, who kicked it to Harrison Barnes in the corner, who immediately rotated it to Thompson for a triple and a 106-96 lead, which finished as a 109-98 series-clincher.
It would be unfair to mention the lack of help from the ancillary Pelicans without mentioning that Curry, Thompson and Green were the only Warriors in double figures. The star power of those three, with Curry’s 39 making him just one point shy of joining LeBron James and Lamarcus Aldridge as the only players in the last decade with back-to-back 40 point playoff outputs, and Green posting a 12/10/5 line in all four games, was enough to prevail over a young team making its postseason debut. That said, more fearsome opponents await them, likely Memphis in Round 2 and San Antonio or Houston beyond that. Those teams will be better equipped to pick at Golden State’s flaws, however minor.
Are Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala capable of hitting the open shots teams will force them to make? Can they sustain offense even though Curry is their only shot creator at times? Is the bench good enough? These are all questions for another day, but they are questions nonetheless.