26 April, 2018
I think he really is well aware of where he fits in on this team and what hes capable of doing. Pelicans head coach, Alvin Gentry talking about Nikos huge transformation on the team since the trade after DeMarcus Cousins season-ending Achilles tear.
The sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans swept the three-seeded Portland Trailblazers in dominating fashion. Many of us are still haunted by a Game 7 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the 07-08 season.
While many fans are still reliving their favorite moments, they are even more excited about the team's potential. "It needs to be a consistent thing where before every season they're talking about: These are the top five teams that we know are going to be in there - and we need to be one of them".
The minutes haven't been a concern, though, because New Orleans has used its free-flowing offense to consistently produce good looks, rather than depending on Davis and Holiday to carry the load.
BC-BKN-Pelicans Advance, 739Dominant Davis wills Pelicans into 2nd round of playoffsAP Photo LAGH125, LAGH124, LAGH120, LAGH130Eds: With AP Photos.
Davis said he took advice from Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, who won an National Basketball Association title with Boston in 2008. During the playoffs, Rondo has emerged as the club's third star, piling up 53 assists in four games. "Different guys are playing with different confidence levels". I think it got real when we went to Kentucky (before training camp in September) as far the talent we were playing with and the characteristics of the guys off of the court.
And it's not just the offense.
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The open looks that the Sixers had while shooting an unbelievable 18 for 28 from three-point range in Game 1 suddenly vanished. Granted, Dario Saric put up 23 points himself and, behind his efforts, was Ben Simmons who finished the night with 24.
As for the Pelicans, Davis, Mirotic, Rondo, and Holiday have been consistent fantasy-wise.
So while you can never expect to stop the Warriors offense, the Pelicans have proven that they at least have a shot to contain them. By about everyone's estimation, his best season to date. His 47 points also marked the most scored by any player in the 2018 playoffs, eclipsing LeBron James's 46.
So when Pelicans players say they're at their best when almost everyone starts counting them out, the evidence backs them up.
The Pelicans game plan was clear from the opening tip of Game 1: Double team Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum whenever they touch the ball, and let the rest of the Blazers prove they could take up the slack. As we've seen, that technique doesn't work against the Warriors.
"A lot of people counted us out after the injury to DeMarcus, so this is wonderful", Davis said following Saturday's series-clinching, 131-123 victory over third-seeded Portland.
The question is whether he could replicate that with a team like Orlando. That's not a strong suit of this iteration of the Pelicans, who were 24th in the league in offensive rebound percentage for the regular season after the Cousins injury.
Since then, Gentry said the Pelicans basically started the playoffs, and have reeled off eight straight wins, including the last four in the actual postseason.