The Golden State Warriors host the New Orleans Pelicans for Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, with a Stephen Curry return looming.
The Golden State Warriors got past the San Antonio Spurs in the first round with relative ease, but the streaking New Orleans Pelicans should provide a greater challenge. That’s why the imminent return of Stephen Curry is so important as the Warriors and Pelicans begin their second-round series on Saturday night.
Thursday, Curry went through his first full practice since suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in late March. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called Curry questionable for Saturday’s Game 1, so it looks like the two-time MVP will either be ready to go for Game 1 or Game 2.
Golden State is obviously formidable with or without Curry, though the offense scuffled to close out the series against San Antonio. The Warriors made only 9.4 3-pointers per game at a 33.6 percent clip against the Spurs, marks well below their season averages.
One big reason why was Kevin Durant’s slump from deep. Durant made only 25 percent of his triples on eight attempts per game after making nearly 42 percent of his 3-point attempts in the regular season. Still, Durant was terrific overall, averaging 28.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the five-game series.
Klay Thompson and Draymond Green did their part stepping up in Curry’s absence. Thompson put up 22.3 points per game and shot 52.9 percent from the field, while Green nearly averaged a triple-double with 11.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and eight assists per game.
Even if Curry does return for Game 1, it will likely take him some time to find his rhythm. That could prove difficult against the red-hot backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday. Rondo and Holiday soundly outplayed the Portland Trail Blazers’ star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, with Holiday looking extremely impressive in a breakout series. The 27-year-old guard put up 27.8 points and 6.5 assists per game to go along with hounding defense.
The Warriors will also have to deal with the formidable frontcourt duo of Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic. Davis was a monster with 33 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game in the sweep of the Blazers, while Mirotic has been tearing it up since shaving his beard late in the regular season. Mirotic shot over 46 percent from 3-land in the first round.
Davis will surely see a variety of looks from Golden State’s defense as the defending champions try to limit his impact. Davis roasted the Warriors in the regular season, and New Orleans will need that to continue to have a chance.
Date: Saturday, April 28
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Oakland, California
Venue: Oracle Arena
TV Info: TNT
Live Stream: Watch live on FuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial. Qualified subscribers can also watch on TNT Overtime.
The Warriors are the favorite in this series regardless of Curry’s status, but the Pelicans have the top-end talent to make this interesting. New Orleans is likely in for some regression, though, and not much of that can be afforded against Golden State.