The NBA playoffs tipped off in grand style this weekend with the Golden State Warriors versus the San Antonio Spurs Saturday. The Western Conference champions, the number 2-seed versus San Antonio the 7-seed. The younger coach, Steve Kerr, two rings in the last three seasons, versus the experienced, tenured 5-time champion Greg Popovich coaching in his 21st consecutive postseason series.
Sounds sexy on paper, in theory, and in the offices and/or conference rooms of television programming executives, but on the basketball court, the Spurs are having a difficult time. Blown out in Game 1, 113 to 92 and by 15 Monday, 116 to 101, the Spurs are on the verge of being swept. And so are the Portland Trailblazers, the conference 3-seed, versus the New Orleans Pelicans, the 6 who’ve gone to Rip City and ripped off two huge, massive road victories for their team. The first, narrowly by two, 97-95 on Saturday, and by nine on Tuesday, 111-102.
The next two games of this 7-game series will be Pelican home games in the Big Easy, tonight, Thursday, and on Saturday, Games 3 and 4.
“We’ve still got two more games to win, so we’re not celebrating anything,” said Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry.
It’s easy to get caught up. Anthony Davis dropped 35 points and 14 rebounds while Rajon Rondo completed 17 assists, tieing the franchise record, along with 6 points and 8 rebounds. Jrue Holiday, in the backcourt with Rondo, hit for 21 points and 7 rebounds.
The Warriors are without Stephen Curry in the first round, their 3-point shooting guard. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have been holding them down—24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists for Durant, 27 points for Thompson in Game 1; then 32 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists for Durant and 32 points and 5 assists for Thompson.
“No one can make up Steph’s contributions individually,” said Thompson. “That’s got to be done as a team, and even then, it’s hard with the way he can shoot the ball.”
The Western Conference 1-seed, the Houston Rockets, visit the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday and Monday for Games 3 and 4 against the 8-seeded Timbs. The Utah Jazz, the 4-seed, lost Game 1 to the Oklahoma Thunder, the 5 at home. They travel to OKC for Games 3 and 4 also on Saturday and Monday.