Breaking down Pelicans vs Warriors Western Conference Semifinals

Breaking down Pelicans vs Warriors Western Conference Semifinals

SAN ANTONIO -- By eliminating the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, the No. 2 seed Warriors advanced to the Western Conference Semifinal round, where they will face New Orleans, with Game 1 set for Saturday at a time to be determined.

The No. 6 seed Pelicans advanced last Saturday with a four-game sweep of the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.

Here is a look at recent history as well as matchups -- as best we can determine, considering many will involve cross-matching -- between the Warriors and Pelicans:

POINT GUARD

Andre Iguodala vs. Rajon Rondo: It’s possible but not likely that Stephen Curry will be available for Game 1, which means Warriors coach Steve Kerr should stay with Andre Iguodala, whose defense and intellect were on display against the Spurs. Rondo clearly is the leader of the Pelicans and is playing at a very high level. He averaged 13.3 assists per game against Portland and scored well enough (11.3 ppg, 48.7 percent FG) to keep defenses honest.

EDGE: Even.

SHOOTING GUARD

Klay Thompson vs. Jrue Holiday: This matchup, featuring the best two-way guards in the league, should be highly entertaining. With the exception of Game 4, Thompson was fabulous against the Spurs, averaging 22.6 ppg on 52.9-percent shooting, including 51.6 percent beyond the arc. Holiday also was superb, averaging 27.8 ppg on 56.8-percent shooting while shutting down Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Thompson is four-time All-Star and Holiday, who hasn’t been an All-Star since 2013, is reminding everyone of his considerable skills.

EDGE: Even.

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant vs. E’Twaun Moore: Durant is a consensus top-5 player and, at 6-foot-11, presents a matchup headache for any defender. He can also expect to at times match up with Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Durant led the Warriors in scoring against the Spurs (28.2 ppg, 48 percent FG but only 25 percent from deep) and will be target No. 1 for the New Orleans defense. Put another way, Moore, will spend less time on Durant than a couple of his teammates.

EDGE: Significant edge to Durant.

POWER FORWARD

Draymond Green vs. Nikola Mirotic: Another juicy matchup, featuring the splendid defensive gifts of Green against the brilliant shooting of Mirotic. Though Green also will get turns against absurdly good Pelicans center Anthony Davis, he is sure to see plenty of Mirotic, who against Portland averaged 19.3 ppg, shooting 46.2 from deep and 57.1 overall. In either case, Green, who at times single-handedly thwarted San Antonio’s offense, will have to spend more time playing on-ball defense.

EDGE: Slight edge to Green

CENTER

Entire Warriors army vs. Anthony Davis: The matchup description is not much of a stretch. Davis, who is every bit to matchup headache that Durant is. Davis’ 33 ppg in the first round leads all playoff scorers, is going to see no fewer than four different defenders -- Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee, Durant and Green -- over the course of this series. Anyone who defends the 6-10 star is going to need both skill and luck. On the other end, Davis will patrol the paint in an effort to protect the rim. He leads all playoff performers in blocks (2.8 bpg).

EDGE: Significant edge to Davis

SEASON SERIES

The Warriors and Pelicans met four times, with the Warriors winning three times:

Nov. 20 at New Orleans: Warriors 128, Pelicans 120 Nov. 25 at Oakland: Warriors 110, Pelicans 95 Dec. 4 at New Orleans: Warriors 125, Pelicans 115 April 7 at Oakland: Pelicans 126, Warriors 120

Draymond calmly claps back at Webber, 'my (championship) jewelry fit well'

Draymond calmly claps back at Webber, 'my (championship) jewelry fit well'

OAKLAND -- Draymond Green concedes he doesn’t generally look to score, that he’d rather set up his teammates to provide that for the Warriors.

So he was only mildly annoyed by comments made by TNT analyst Chris Webber during the telecast of Game 5 between the Warriors and Spurs on Tuesday night.

Webber said that if Green were on another team and was expected to score that “he may not be in the starting lineup.”

Naturally, Green was fully loaded for a ready response.

“I don't have a scorer's mentality, especially for the team that I play on,” Green began after a 99-91 victory. “If I did have a scorer's mentality, it would throw all this off and it wouldn't work out.

“You know, there are times in the game where I probably need to score more, but it's hard to turn a scorer's mentality on and off. I've had that once before in my life. You don't just click that on or off. Nonetheless, I do know when I need to be more aggressive and that helps my team out.”

Green was just warming up, saving his best stuff for punctuation.

“But I don't care,” he continued. “I've done some great things in this league. I've been to All-Star (games) twice averaging like 11 points, 10 points or something like that. Look, you know, I don't need to score.

“However, I don't think (Webber) can find many GMs are coaches that wouldn't say I wouldn't start on their team, and you know, my -- I'm fine without scoring the ball. I think I've created a new lane for guys in this league to where you don't have to score 20 points to be an All-Star or be a starter in this league and it is what it is.

“That's fine and my (championship) jewelry fit well. So I'm doing really pretty good. You know, much love to C-Webb, though, from Michigan, State of Michigan, you know, we good.”

There is good reason to believe there is at least a degree of friendly-unfriendly rivalry at work. Webber grew up in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan. Green grew up in Saginaw and, and 15 years later, attended Michigan State University.

For the record, Green averaged 11.4 points, a team-best 11.2 rebounds and a team-best 8.0 assists in the five-game series with San Antonio.

Green has earned two championship rings with the Warriors, who have reached three consecutive NBA Finals with him at power forward.

Webber spent his rookie season (1993-94) with the Warriors, and was named Rookie of the Year. Though the Warriors were swept by Phoenix in the first round that season, he eventually appeared in 80 playoff games -- 53 as a member of the Sacramento Kings -- but never reached the NBA Finals.

Film room: Assigning responsibility for Mirotic's six 3-pointers vs Warriors on April 7

Film room: Assigning responsibility for Mirotic's six 3-pointers vs Warriors on April 7

The Warriors vanquished the Spurs on Tuesday night, which means it's officially time to start looking ahead to the Pelicans.

Remember when Golden State lost to New Orleans on April 7 at Oracle? (it feels like forever ago).

Well, Nikola Mirotic roasted the Warriors, scoring 28 points on 10-for-18 overall and 6-for-11 from deep.

After rewatching the game, one thing stood out -- it wasn't just one guy's fault for allowing Mirotic to go off.

Let's analyze the six 3-pointers Mirotic made:

1) About a minute into the game, the Warriors are getting back on defense after a missed shot. Draymond Green is matched up against Mirotic, but he doesn't have a sense of urgency to make sure he's pressed up against Mirotic on the catch. Draymond flies at the pump fake, and Mirotic takes one dribble before drilling the triple.

2) Kevon Looney is matched up against Mirotic in a half court set. Looney takes one step towards the paint to help on a diving Anthony Davis (he didn't really need to as Kevin Durant smartly dropped off of Rajon Rondo), so Mirotic pops out to the left wing and Looney is late to contest:

3) Draymond is guarding Mirotic but is forced to switch when he cuts backdoor. After standing around for a couple of seconds, Mirotic slowly relocates to the left wing and David West is a little slow to challenge (although this is one where you kind of just have to tip your cap...)

4) This one is on Draymond, who abandons Mirotic in an attempt to trap Rondo in the corner. Iguodala is forced to leave Darius Miller (another great shooter), but Mirotic has plenty of time and space to shoot over Iguodala's outstretched arm:

5) It starts with Rondo driving baseline past Quinn Cook and kicking it to the corner to E'Twaun Moore, who promptly swings it to Mirotic. Looney scrambles and flies past Mirotic, who calmly takes one dribble and has all day to line up his fifth triple of the game:

6) Draymond's lob attempt to Durant is intercepted and the Pelicans push the other way. Looney get sucked beneath the 3-point line and Mirotic cans it from deep to essentially end the game (live ball turnovers are deadly):

The Pelicans acquired Mirotic on Feb. 1, and he's making New Orleans' front office look great right now:

-First 25 games (6 starts) -- 12.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 30 percent from deep
-Last five regular season games (5 starts) -- 25.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 46.5 percent from deep
-First round vs Blazers -- 18.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 46 percent from deep

The Warriors could go several directions when it comes to matching up against Anthony Davis and Mirotic.

Whichever route they choose... they will have their hands full.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller