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28 Apr 2018

New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/28/18

New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors: Lineups,
preview & prediction 4/28/18

Stephen Curry could make his postseason debut Saturday night when the Golden State Warriors open their conference semifinal series versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

Stephen Curry, who averaged 26.4 points and 6.1 assists despite being limited to 51 games due to a series of injuries, was a spectator in the first round due to a sprained left knee as the reigning NBA champions cruised by the San Antonio Spurs in five games. 

The Warriors (58-24), who are trying to win their third NBA title in four years and reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season, barely missed their All-Star guard because fellow All-Stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson shouldered most of the scoring load as they averaged 28.2 and 22.6 points, respectively, versus San Antonio. 

Curry, though, went through a full-contact practice Thursday along with his customary shooting drills, and played in a 5-on-5 scrimmage Friday, though coach Steve Kerr did not upgrade him from the questionable status he labeled him with the previous day when he practiced.

"I'm getting there, for sure," Curry told ESPN after practice. "I've done a lot in the last two weeks, especially on my feet moving, getting back to movements that I expect to do in the games and try to build that tolerance and intensity. My knee feels pretty good. I don't have any pain with doing the things that I've been doing."

Veteran Andre Iguodala manned the point guard position in the first round and averaged 7.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists. But he also was part of a strong defensive effort as Golden State limited San Antonio to 96.8 points per game and 29.8 percent shooting in the first round.

New Orleans (48-34) will have had six days off by the time Game 1 tips off after a stunning sweep of Northwest Division champions Portland in the first round. The Pelicans have picked up the tempo of their offense and averaged 114.5 points while shooting 52.1 percent in winning their first playoff series since 2008 and just their second in franchise history.

All-Star center Anthony Davis was a towering presence in the sweep of the Trail Blazers, averaging 33.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks while shooting 57.0 percent in his first postseason appearance since being swept by the Warriors in the first round in 2015. 

Jrue Holiday was the outside complement to Davis' inside game, chipping in 27.8 points and 6.5 assists per game while making 56.8 percent of his shots. Nikola Mirotic provided the perimeter presence, hitting 12 of 26 3-pointers while averaging 18.3 points, and veteran point guard Rajon Rondo had three double-doubles while totaling 11.3 points and 13.3 assists per game.

The Pelicans have won nine straight overall when including the final five games of the regular season.