NBA New Orleans Pelicans: Surprise Team of the NBA Playoffs…So far…
Through two weekends of the NBA Playoffs, the surprise team of the playoffs is the NBA New Orleans Pelicans. No one saw this coming, certainly not me. Once dead in the water, the Pelicans lifted themselves off the mat not only to make the playoffs but also to get a first-round sweep over the higher seeded Portland Trailblazers.
Many thought when All-Star Center DeMarcus Cousins season ended due to injury, the NBA New Orleans Pelicans season was over. However, through the leadership of Alvin Gentry, the high level of play from their stars Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, one of the best in-season moves (acquiring Nikola Mirotic), and the veteran presence of Rajon Rondo, the Pelicans have become one of the NBA’s best stories.
The NBA New Orleans Pelicans have kind of re-invented themselves mid-way through the season. With the loss of Cousins and addition of Mirotic, they are playing smaller, faster, and freer. The off-season addition of Rondo has allowed Jrue Holiday to move off the ball and be more of the natural, scoring guard, a role he is much more comfortable with and has him playing at an all-star level.
Anthony Davis elevated his game to an even higher level late in the season, posting a handful of 40+ point outings, averaging 35 points and 10 rebounds in a month, and finishing the year averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Then there is Alvin Gentry who deserves a ton of credit for shaking off the constant criticism and adapting to his personnel to make it all work.
While there are many people and things we can look to for the explanation of the Pelican’s success, the simple answer is it has been a collective effort and they are playing a quality brand of basketball that a lot of people thought they were capable of playing.
After sweeping the Trail Blazers, the Pelicans will wait for their next round opponent. They will take on the winner of the Spurs-Warriors. After a Spurs win in game 4, the series will return to the Bay Area for game 5 with the Warriors leading the series 3-1. The Pelicans will just have to wait a little longer to see who they will play.