Scott Ferrall overheard an intriguing debate Tuesday: Which NBA team down 2-0 in its first-round playoff series has a better chance of winning a game and making things interesting: the Bucks, down 2-0 to the Bulls, or the Pelicans, down 2-0 to the Warriors?
Everyone said the Bucks.
Ferrall disagreed. Vehemently.
“Yeah, isn’t it interesting how that goes?” Pelicans radio voice Sean Kelley said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Certainly when you talk about the Bucks, they lack some depth and I don’t think they’re as battle-tested as the Pelicans because they played in that awful Eastern Conference all season long. I think that battling through the West has helped the Pelicans. It’s certainly a team that doesn’t give any ground when they can – and getting back home is huge.”
Game 3 is Thursday in New Orleans at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Pelicans were 28-13 at home this season – the same record that the Warriors were on the road.
And yet, Kelley isn’t counting the Pelicans out just yet.
“Look, I know that Golden State was a good team on the road all season – just take a look at their overall record,” he said. “But the way that the Pelicans played out West, I think they gained a small amount of confidence that they’re going to let explode at home this week. I think they can get back in this series and find themselves back West for Game 5, if not a Game 6 – and we’ll see what happens from there.”
New Orleans played Golden State tough in both games but lost both.
“I don’t want to pretend by any means that the Pelicans are poised to be the greatest upset in NBA playoff history,” Kelley said. “But at the same time, I will agree with you: I think they’re in a better position against Golden State than the Bucks are against a very good Chicago team as well.”
While we all know Anthony Davis has been a stud in this series – “Is there another player in the game right now that’s like that guy?” Kelley asked (Answer: No) – he’s gotten a little help from his friends. Tyreke Evans, for example, was beyond solid in Game 2. He finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers.
“He is like Wolverine from the X-Men,” Kelley said. “I have never seen an athlete regenerate himself like Tyreke Evans does. He has rubber joints or something. He did say his knee was throbbing the entire second half, but I thought he played fantastic. And for a guy who gets knocked around about his defense all the time, I don’t think he was half bad defensively, either, so I thought he played very well (Monday) night.”
Eric Gordon, meanwhile, had 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting in Game 2 and was 5-of-10 from three-point range. If Gordon is on, he can be lethal.
“Especially if he’s one early,” Kelley said. “I think that was a huge key in (Monday’s) game. He helped them get out of the gates quick, which wasn’t the case in Game 1. When he gets going early, that also creates things for Anthony, takes some of the pressure off of him. If Anthony can kick out to him or Gordon can help at least space the floor, that changes things a lot for the Pelicans offensively. He’s been really good so far and he’s been really steady since the All-Star Break. I am a little concerned about his defensive abilities against the bigger Klay Thompson. We saw that (Monday) night, especially late.”
Thompson scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter in Game 2, helping the Warriors to a 97-87 win. Thompson is averaging 23.5 points per game in the series. Stephen Curry is averaging 28.0.