First came the swishes, then came the sweep. It didn’t come as a surprise that the Warriors were able to put away the Pelicans for good on Saturday. What was alarming was how easily Stephen Curry and his teammates made it look.
Playing with a playfulness that bordered on cruelty and accuracy that toed absurd, the Warriors pummeled the Pelicans 109-98 in Game 4, pulling off a series sweep and putting a hard-fighting New Orleans team out of its misery.
Golden State picked apart New Orleans, pulling away in the second half with an impressive shooting display. Curry scored a game-high 39 points and hit 6 of 8 three-pointers, bouncing around the floor and splashing in shots most mortals wouldn’t think to take, much less make with the confidence he displayed. With the uncanny ability to knock down perimeter shots off the dribble, Curry has become a threat to score from anywhere on the floor in every situation imaginable, a lesson the Pelicans learned in the final seconds of Game 3.
With New Orleans forced to collapse on the scorching hot MVP front-runner, Golden State's supporting cast enjoyed a bevy of open shots. Klay Thompson scored 25 points and briefly caught fire in the third quarter, hitting back-to-back three-pointers in less than a minute before rimming out a third. Draymond Green just missed a triple double, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and helping the Warriors’ version of a "Big Three" combine for 86 points.
[daily_cut.NBA]The Pelicans, in their defense, didn’t go down easy. Anthony Davis remained a dominant force for the fourth straight game, totaling 36 points and 11 rebounds and Eric Gordon bounced back from a sluggish showing to chip in 29 points. Despite an onslaught of buckets from the Warriors, the Pelicans didn’t roll over in the fourth quarter, briefly cutting the deficit to single digits.
But when your opponent is shooting 54.2% from deep and Curry is burying jumpers over the outstretched arms of Davis, there is only so much you can do.
If there were any remaining Warriors skeptics caved up in the bowels of NBA fandom, a first-round sweep of the Pelicans should silence the doubters for good. Yes, Golden State can win in the postseason simply because it can win anywhere, and anyhow against anyone. It finished the season as the eighth team in history to average a +10 point differential. The Warriors have the most versatile roster in the league and far and away its most balanced. Fast or slow, big or small, the Warriors have the answers and the better players.
They’re also showing the killer instinct necessary to win a title. Rarely are teams as dominant as the Warriors not equally successful in the postseason. Of the nine teams in history to previously win 67 games, seven won the title and only one fell in the first round.
Golden State looked every bit like the team that won 67 games during its first-round sweep. Remember, this is a team that racked up more 20-point victories than losses during the season. They're undefeated when holding their opponent under 100 points and they’re capable of torching and stifling just about anyone in the league. Don’t let the smiles on Curry and Steve Kerr’s faces fool you. The Warriors are a terrifying opponent and have yet to show any signs of mercy.
After mounting a 20-point comeback in Game 3 and pulling off a thrilling victory, the Warriors made sure there would be no drama in Game 4. Despite the Pelicans stepping up in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Warriors 31-21, Golden State made sure to keep them at arm’s length. Curry and the Warriors weren’t leaving New Orleans without the series in hand. That part they were dead serious about.
It appears Golden State’s regular-season run was just a prelude to its postseason performance.