In Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinal series between the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors, one team looked very much like a low playoff seed, while the other squad looked like defending champions. Golden State was dominant on Saturday en route to a 123-101 blowout over New Orleans.
The Pelicans obviously need to make some major adjustments in today’s Game 2, especially since Warriors’ superstar Stephen Curry may be returning to the contest from an injury absence (10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT).
New Orleans simply looked outmatched both in terms of physicality and skill, and the team has no easy answers for recovering in today’s contest. But let’s look a few factors that will determine whether or not Game 2 will be a repeat of Game 1. Finally, we’ll also offer some guidance on how you should bet for this contest at the best American online sportsbooks, with this preview’s New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors predictions and picks.
What Sort of Effort Does Stephen Curry Have in Him After Long Absence?
The Warriors have won five of their six postseason games, accumulating a point differential of plus-11 per game. However, their most important player is still Stephen Curry, who hasn’t played a minute for the team since March 23 because of a knee injury.
Curry is probable to play in Game 2. When Curry and the rest of the star-studded Warriors are healthy, the squad is the best in the league. The question for today is how much Curry is ready to help the team.
Sometimes, the return of a superstar from injury can only complicate things. The team may try so hard to accommodate an out-of-rhythm player that its performance is compromised. On the other hand, if Curry is ready to play at his normal level, the Warriors instantly become impossible to guard and the Pelicans will have very few answers for them.
Can New Orleans Find Better Gameplan to Deal With Warriors’ Length?
The Pelicans got by most of the season with three starters who were 6’4” or shorter: Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore. They sacrificed some defensive versatility for more offensive firepower in choosing this approach.
The problem for them is that the Warriors have great length at the guard and wing spots. Kevin Durant is a lanky 6’11”, Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston are 6’7” and Andre Iguodala is 6’6”. On several occasions in Game 1, Golden State’s players just shot over the Pelicans’ smaller guards. On the other end of the floor, New Orleans struggled to get around and finish over the Warriors’ length. The Warriors also had a 57-42 rebounding advantage.
For the Pelicans, there is no obvious fix for this major disadvantage. Maybe the team should play bigger wings like Jordan Crawford or Darius Miller more, but they have disadvantages as well. Let’s see if Alvin Gentry has an adjustment up his sleeve to combat his team’s lack of guard and wing length.
Can Pelicans Take Better Advantage of Fast Break Opportunities?
Both of these teams like to play a fast pace. However, if the pace slows down, Golden State is much more equipped to handle it. The Warriors’ superior size, athleticism and shot creation ability makes things very tough for the Pelicans in a half court setting on both ends of the floor.
If the Pelicans are going to get consistently good scoring opportunities, they need to do it before the Warriors’ defense is set. New Orleans had only 11 fast break points in Game 1, which is significantly down from their average of 16.8 points against the Trail Blazers in the first round of the postseason.
The Pelicans also can’t let the game devolve into a total track meet, though. New Orleans’ transition defense needs to be on top of its game. Basically, the Pelicans need to dominate the fast break battle to win this game.
Our Preview’s New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors Game 2 Betting Picks & Predictions
Golden State is an obvious favorite to win Game 2, especially with the emotional lift that the likely return of Stephen Curry brings. However, there can be some bumps in first games back for superstars, and I can see the Warriors spending at least some portion of the contest struggling mightily to accommodate Curry. The defending NBA champions may still win Game 2, but it won’t be another blowout. So here are the New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors predictions for this preview:
- The Warriors are favored by either 10.5 or 11 points in this contest. For the first of our picks, this preview advises betting on the Pelicans +11pts @ -110 with Bookmaker.
- Neither team really found a major groove shooting the ball or in transition, and they still scored 224 points in Game 1. Also, with Curry likely back, that total is more likely to increase because of his offensive exploits. Remember that both of these teams play a very fast pace. 5Dimes and Bookmaker both provide the best option for the total points, going over 226.5pts @ -110.