Warriors avoid principal's office, earn three A's for Game 4 vs Pelicans
Grading Game 4 win
NEW ORLEANS -- As they prepared to meet New Orleans the Western Conference Semifinals, we identified 5 Keys for the Warriors to win the series in six games or fewer. After each game, we assess how they grade out on those factors.
Here are the grades for Game 4, a 118-92 win Sunday at Smoothie King Center that gives the Warriors a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
THE CURRY EFFECT
First things first: Stephen Curry was plus-21 in 32 minutes of action. He’s still not making his usual overall impact (two assists, one rebound, zero steals), but his scoring is coming along nicely. He’s dangerous enough to occupy Jrue Holiday, who is New Orleans’ best perimeter defender. Curry finished with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-9 from deep. He moved nicely for a guy still being wrapped with an ice pack on his left knee each time he goes to the bench.
New Orleans has been the most prolific fast-break team in these playoffs, averaging 18 such points and ringing up an absurd 39 in Game 2. That number was reduced to 16 in Game 3 and dropped to 11 in Game 4. That the 11 points came on 4-of-14 shooting is a convincing testimony to how well the Warriors defended attempts to get easy transition buckets. There was essentially no running game for the Pelicans.
Klay Thompson and Jrue Holiday don’t go head-to-head, so the comparison is about relative impact. In this instance, Thompson wins. Holiday scored more points, 19-13. They grabbed the same number of rebounds, seven, and Holiday had three assists to Thompson’s zero. Where Thompson shined much brighter was on defense, where he basically muffled Rajon Rondo to such degree that he seemed defeated before the fourth quarter. Holiday generally defended Kevin Durant and lost big, with Durant scoring 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting.
The Pelicans needed a massive game from Anthony Davis and his response, thanks largely to Draymond Green’s harassment, was an average one: 26 points (on 8-of-22 shooting) and 12 rebounds, with six turnovers. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant barged into the kitchen early, with six points in the first 3:27, and continued feasting on the New Orleans defense, scoring a game-high 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting and adding nine rebounds and five assists.
THE RONDO FACTOR
As welcome as it was to limit Rondo’s scoring (6 points, on 2-of-10 shooting, 32 minutes), what was considerably more impressive was that the Warriors disrupted him enough that the Pelicans never found any offensive flow. After posting 21 assists, with four turnovers in Game 3, Rondo finished with six assists, with four more turnovers. Credit goes to a platoon of defenders, from Thompson and Curry to Shaun Livingston and Quinn Cook. If Rondo can’t ignite the Pelicans, they’re done.