Warriors pass Pelicans' test with flying colors, but tougher one awaits
Looking back at the series
OAKLAND -- As they prepared to meet New Orleans in 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 5, a 113-104 win Tuesday at Oracle Arena that gave the Warriors the series victory.
THE CURRY EFFECT
Stephen Curry played 37 minutes. He scored a team-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. He made all five of his free throws. He added eight assists and seven rebounds. A couple late turnovers pushed that total to four, but he generally looked like the guy we’ve come to know. Steve Kerr didn’t mince words: “It just feels like he’s back now,” the coach said after the game.
The Warriors allowed 10 fast-break points in the second quarter, their worst of the game. In the other three quarters, New Orleans totaled 9 fast-break points. In the third quarter, where the game was won, the Warriors blanked the Pelicans, forcing them to miss all three of their transitions shots. The loss of Pelicans PG Rajon Rondo early in the third quarter may have been a factor, as they scored only 4 fast-break points after halftime.
Klay Thompson’s offense pretty much carried the Warriors early, as he scored 14 points in the first quarter and 19 of his total of 23 in the first half. Jrue Holiday had the flashier game, posting a triple-double -- 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds -- while playing 46 minutes. Whereas Thompson had zero turnovers, Holiday had four. Nobody was more responsible for Rondo having another ineffective game than Thompson, who limited the vet to 7 points and seven assists, with two turnovers, in 20 minutes of action.
Keep in mind, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis only go head-to-head on defensive switches. Davis played a fabulous game, posting 34 points (13-of-26 shooting), 19 rebounds and four blocks. He did what stars must do, and it wasn’t enough. Durant played a quietly terrific game: 24 points (10-of-18 shooting, 1-of-4 from deep), along with seven assists, six rebounds and two steals, with only one turnover. He was crucial to the Warriors maintaining a lead in the second quarter, when he scored 11 of the team’s 27 points on perfect (5-of-5) shooting, including his only 3-pointer of the night. We found no fault with his work.
THE RONDO FACTOR
Rondo’s most notable moment was when he grabbed the arm of Draymond Green and the two briefly clashed. Again. Other than that, Rondo was practically nullified by Thompson’s defense. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Rondo was bothered by a groin injury, which limited him to three minutes in the second half. Slowing New Orleans means not allowing Rondo to orchestrate pace and production. He didn’t.