If Warriors get off to good start in Game 5, it should be too much for Pelicans to overcome


If Warriors get off to good start in Game 5, it should be too much for Pelicans to overcome

OAKLAND — With a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, the Warriors would reach the Western Conference Finals for the fourth consecutive season for the first time in franchise history..

For the first time this postseason, Warriors coach Steve Kerr is disclosing his starting lineup in advance. That’s because the resounding Game 4 success of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green is not to be tampered with.

The only team to go to at least four straight WC Finals in the post-merger era (since 1976), are the Los Angeles, who went eight straight years (1982-89).


Warriors by 11.5


Draymond Green vs. Anthony Davis: Green was tremendous in Game 4 on Sunday, defending Davis, the rim and anyone who dared to enter his space. Davis totaled 26 points, but shot 8-of-22 from the field and committed six turnovers. Is Green capable of a repeat performance? That might be too much to ask, but he will have done his job if he can keep Davis from having an efficient, highly productive game.

[RELATED: 'The bigger the game, the better Draymond plays' -- a deep dive into the numbers]


Warriors: G Patrick McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Pelicans: C Alexis Ajinca (R knee injury), DeMarcus Cousins (L Achilles rupture) and G Frank Jackson (R foot fracture) are listed as out.


Derrick Stafford (crew chief), Ed Malloy, Josh Tiven, Bennie Adams (alternate)


Game 1: Warriors 123, Pelicans 101 Game 2: Warriors 121, Pelicans 116 Game 3: Pelicans 119, Warriors 100 Game 4: Warriors 118, Pelicans 92

The Warriors defeated New Orleans in three of four meetings during the regular season and are 13-2 against the Pelicans in the regular season in the Steve Kerr era.


EARLY FURY: From the opening tip in Game 4, the Warriors were bringing the heat, never letting the Pelicans get comfortable. Needing one win to advance -- and avoid another trip to Louisiana -- expect the Warriors to apply the same ferocity. If the defense is on point, it should be too much for New Orleans to overcome.

THE BENCHES: Lost in all the chatter about the Warriors lineup for Game 4 was how thoroughly their bench outplayed that of the Pelicans, shooting 59.1 percent and outscoring them 30-14. That benches typically play better at home and New Orleans is not a deep team puts the Warriors in wonderful position to repeat that feat.

ROARACLE: The Oracle Arena crowd is at its most imposing when it senses a series victory. With the Warriors playing their best game of the postseason only two days earlier, anticipation will be in the air and the noise levels will be insane. That can make a difference to a Warriors team that absorbs energy from home crowds.

What if Warriors had traded Klay Thompson for Kevin Love in 2014?

What if Warriors had traded Klay Thompson for Kevin Love in 2014?

Editor's note: Twice a week, NBC Sports Bay Area will look back on biggest "What If?" moments in Bay Area sports history in our "Hindsight 2020" series. The first installment: What if the Warriors had actually traded Klay Thompson for Kevin Love in 2014?

Klay Thompson permanently has etched himself into Warriors lore over the last decade, using his superior shooting ability to help win, and even save, the Warriors dynasty. Thompson, along with Steph Curry, has given the Warriors a backcourt never before seen in basketball.

But back in the summer of 2014, the Warriors' eyes were on their first title in 40 years, and Thompson's place in the said mission was murky. His standing in the franchise was uncertain when Golden State dangled his services to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal for Kevin Love

For Golden State -- who ended up winning three titles in five seasons with Thompson -- Love provided star power that would have validated Warriors' rise. For the pre-dynasty Warriors, Love provided something Thompson has never been: A double-double threat not seen in the Bay Area since Chris Webber. 

Despite never making the postseason to that point, Love would bring an established name to a new ownership group led by Joe Lacob looking to make a statement to the rest of the league. However, the deal got nixed when team consultant Jerry West reportedly threatened to quit if Golden State went through the plan. 

But what if Thompson's talents were traded for Love? What if Golden State gave up on the Splash Brothers too early?

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For context, the timing of the trade is noteworthy. While the San Antonio Spurs won the title with a modern offense in 2014, the league still put a premium on traditional big men who could roam the paint. In the same offseason, the Washington Wizards signed big man Marcin Gortat to a five-year, $60 million dollar deal.

But more importantly, the thought of adding Love -- a three-time All-Star at that point -- allowed Lacob to get the star power that'd spurned Golden State for years. Love was the prize, and the Warriors were eager to acquire him. 

But for Golden State, it would have made the team destined for dynastic glory merely a solid regular-season team. Spacing was a catalyst for the Warriors' success, and Love was most effective in the paint during his time in Minnesota.

Love's presence would have made Draymond Green expendable. At the time of the trade discussions, Green hadn't broken out as a bonafide starter. That wouldn't happen until the start of the 2014-15 season, only after David Lee was sidelined with a hip injury.

With Thompson off the roster, Curry would not have the necessary spacing or the heat-check partner Thompson provides. Love's defensive deficiencies would drive assistant coach Ron Adams insane. 

[RELATED: Six reasons why Warriors will play in 2021 Finals]

In Minnesota, Thompson would have been the franchise pillar leading a rebuild, a distinction he's never had the opportunity to live up to. But alongside Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad, he'd have little chance of success in his first season.

In 2015, he'd likely be joined by draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns. But as we learned in the Bay Area, Thompson is best served as the second or third-best player on a championship roster. The presence of Curry and Kevin Durant allowed Thompson to flourish on his own terms. On Golden State's stacked roster, Thompson's scoring binges and defense set the Warriors apart from the rest of the league. In Minnesota, his contributions alone wouldn't yield a title.

Trade notwithstanding, both players ended up on the right side of history. Love ultimately was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning a title with LeBron James in 2016, beating the Warriors along the way.

Meanwhile, Thompson won three titles in the Bay Area and has become an organizational pillar. The 2014 trade proposal looks preposterous in hindsight. 

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

NBA draft rumors: Tyrese Haliburton over LaMelo Ball on Warriors' board

NBA draft rumors: Tyrese Haliburton over LaMelo Ball on Warriors' board

Who do the Warriors view as the top point guard in the 2020 NBA Draft?

"I’ve been told that (Tyrese Haliburton) has emerged as the No. 1 point guard on the Warriors’ board — yes, above LaMelo Ball and Killian Hayes," Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.

Haliburton had his sophomore year at Iowa State cut short in early February because of a broken left wrist. He averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals over 22 games, while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and just under 42 percent from deep.

Several members of the Warriors' front office traveled to Ames, Iowa in early January to see Haliburton up close.

"If Golden State lands anywhere between No. 2 and No. 5, it will seriously consider Haliburton," Letourneau added.

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The 20-year-old (who was born on a "leap day" on Feb. 29, 2000) has somewhat of a funky release, but it's effective.

"My form is not traditional right now, but it was even worse as a freshman because I wasn't strong enough to really get it there," he told ESPN's Mike Schmitz in early April. "I've had to get more used to getting it off in different ways.

"Even this year, I played with it a little bit because I knew I'd be more of an emphasis defensively. You might see sometimes my pull-up doesn't look the same as my catch-and-shoot shot. But it's just dependent on how I can get it there.

"I feel like I put a lot of time in and no matter how I release it, I feel like every shot's going in."

[RELATED: Report: Warriors expected to find out draft spot in August]

At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-7.5 inch wingspan, Haliburton thrives in transition where his incredible passing skills are on full display. The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native "has one of the highest basketball IQs of any player in the draft," according to Schmitz.

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