(Photo Credit: USA Today Sport via Reuters/Derick E. Hingle)
The Golden State Warriors were run right out of the Smoothie King Center in Game 3 as they blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans, 119-100. After altering their starting lineup, which had played so well for the first two games of the series, the defending champs just came out flat right out of the gate and just never recovered.
It also didn’t help that they couldn’t knock down their shots. They finished a horrific 38 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. Stephen Curry could not replicate his stunning Game 2 as he had just 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
As for the Pelicans, Anthony Davis came to play as he erupted for 33 points and 18 rebounds. The rest of the Pelicans starters followed the Brow’s lead. Jrue Holiday had another excellent all-around night with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two steals. Nikola Mirotic recorded a strong double-double with 16 points and 13 boards.
Rajon Rondo orchestrated the offense expertly as he dished off 21 assists while former Warrior Ian Clark haunted his old team with 18 big points off the Pelicans bench.
Three keys to the game
Warriors intensity – The Warriors’ trademark complacency, which haunted them for most of the regular season, reared its ugly head in Game 3. Their decision to go small, subbing out Andre Iguodala for JaVale McGee, was a curious move given how well they could play Anthony Davis for the first two games.
Apart from going back to those smaller lineups, the Warriors also need to ratchet up their intensity – particularly on defense – to take down the Pelicans.
Pelicans aggressiveness – As for New Orleans, they took full advantage of the champs’ lethargic play by putting in some terrific effort. Davis was obviously a major factor in their success as he took advantage of the Warriors’ decision to change up their defense on him.
With the Warriors likely to step up their game, the Pelicans will need to prepare to take that punch by continuing to battle on both ends of the court.
Stephen Curry’s effectiveness – It might have been a bit premature to declare that Curry was back after just one game. The two-time MVP looked like someone still working his way back from a significant injury in Game 3.
The Warriors have shown they can still perform at a high level even without their superstar. But if Curry can come close to matching his effectiveness in Game 2, Golden State will be that much tougher to beat.
Matchup to watch
Draymond Green vs Anthony Davis – Kerr messed around with a lineup that was working, and Davis and the Pelicans made him pay. The Warriors coach must now return to the team’s small-ball lineup right from the start, giving Green the responsibility to take on Davis and matching up with all the other Pelicans along the perimeter.
Warriors projected starting lineup
PG – Stephen Curry | SG – Klay Thompson | SF – Andre Iguodala | PF – Kevin Durant | C – Draymond Green
Pelicans projected starting lineup
PG – Rajon Rondo | SG – Jrue Holiday | SF – E’Twaun Moore | PF – Nikola Mirotic | C – Anthony Davis
Despite going just one assist short of a triple-double, it was still a disappointing Game 3 for Green, who had no steals or blocks with seven turnovers. But Green has been money for the most part in these playoffs and will probably be the one to spearhead the Warriors’ retaliation.
As for the Pelicans, their Big 4 of Davis, Mirotic, Holiday, and Rondo continues to perform well. Rondo has delivered in virtually every playoff game he’s played thus far, but don’t discount Davis from stealing the show and putting together a line better than the 33 points, 18 boards, and four steals he had in Game 3.
The Warriors can’t be as bad as they were in Game 3. They got their wake up call with that loss and should come out with a much greater sense of urgency and playoff intensity for Game 4. Even if Curry still isn’t close to 100 percent, the Warriors still have a good shot at covering the 5.5-point spread.
The Warriors reclaim control of the series as they get the 112-105 win in Game 4.
This game will be broadcast on ABC. Tip-off is at 3:30 pm Eastern.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?