Instead the Spurs are the 7th seed and will take on defending NBA Champion Golden State in their first round best of seven series. Clearly, this was a New Orleans team that showed up with something to play for.
No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers (49-33) vs.
The league should have scheduled the first two games of the series Saturday and then Monday instead of Tuesday. "We had some breakdowns, but when we had breakdowns we were still being active and playing the right way". Davis, the likely runner-up or at no worse than the No. 4 leading vote-getter for the MVP dominated the big men of Portland and found his way to the rim, time-after-time. On the other end of the floor, Pelicans star Anthony Davis hit four free throws in as many tries to seal the victory. "I think we played well overall".
On the season, the Spurs are averaging 102.8 points, 44.3 rebounds and 22.8 assists per game.
For whatever reason, Rondo always comes alive during the postseason.
"I don't know if you can do a better job on those two guards than Jrue and those guys did", Gentry said of his team's defense on Lillard and McCollum, who combined to shoot 12 of 41 from the field. "All of the sudden, we had to be more of an open-court team, play with more spacing and things like that". The Pelicans turned from a Corolla into a Corvette.
In Portland's 103-93 home victory against New Orleans on October 24, the Blazers shot 34.5 percent from three to the Pelicans' 30 percent.
As usual, they had superstar Anthony Davis to thank as he put on a monster display to enjoy his first playoff win. Holiday", Rondo said. "The world is finally seeing what he does.
Holiday was asked in postgame if he felt he was underappreciated around the league, and responded adamantly explaining how much his team appreciates him, and his head coach was applauding his play as well. Holiday is the Pelicans best small defender, so expect him to spend a lot of time harassing Portland's best offensive player. By the time they found a rhythm late in the third, New Orleans had almost pushed the lead to 20 points. "We lost five out of six". Just play faster and move the basketball and play a little different. "Why not go get another one?' We can't let tonight's loss go into the next game". "That's our mindset. But feels good to get that first win".
Quietly, the Pelicans also grew into a dynamic defense. In the Blazers' win on March 27, Davis scored 36 points - but by that point, he was without Cousins. It was a move Demps said he'd been working on before Cousins' injury. Evan Turner added 13 points and Jusuf Norkic had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pelicans halted Portland's furious fourth-quarter comeback to take a 1-0 lead in the First Round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs with a 97-95 win in front of 19,882 (sellout) at Moda Center.
"He was up all night watching film", said Davis of Rondo.
That means they can't afford to take a single night off. In many cases, teams never overcome it and certainly don't thrive.