Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans felt like a series of tiny contests. The Pelicans’ 4-0 start followed by a Warriors 10-0 run in the opening minutes set the tone for this Saturday showdown. In the end, Stephen Curry‘s 34 points and Draymond Green‘s versatility pushed Golden State over the top. It was a 106-99 final.
For Curry, his game was somewhat uncharacteristic in that he only went 4-13 from three-land. The potential MVP also missed three of his seven free throw attempts in a game where he still managed to shoot 13-25 from the floor. His partner in crime, Klay Thompson, only went 6-17 and had five turnovers. The aforementioned Green had 15 points, 12 boards, and seven assists as Andrew Bogut put up a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double.
With Curry firing away and the Warriors also receiving contributions from Harrison Barnes, Golden State dominated early on. A 28-13 first quarter in Golden State’s favor put New Orleans on blowout alert. With Anthony Davis showing up in Oakland, though, the pride of unibrows worldwide, the Pelicans didn’t surrender. They scored 25 or more points in each remaining quarter behind Davis racking up 35 points and four blocks. He went 9-10 from the foul line.
The title refers to this game as strange primarily because of the ending. During a fourth quarter where New Orleans outscored the Warriors by 11, a previous blowout turned into a borderline toss-up. Okay, Curry and company were never truly in danger of losing, but it became close enough to where the Warriors had to sweat. Monty Williams and his squad refused to die as they extended this Game 1 matchup as long as possible.
One unsung performer in this effort was Quincy Pondexter, the former Memphis Grizzlies’ guard. Going 7-14 from the field, 3-7 from deep, Pondexter managed to put up 20-9-6 without committing a single turnover. His accomplishments came in defeat, of course, but he can hang his hat on putting up excellent numbers on the road against the best team in the NBA. The Pelicans also received 16 points from Eric Gordon, but suffered a blow when Tyreke Evans exited the game with a knee injury. Evans didn’t make a field goal in his 11 minutes of action.
An aspect worth watching will be the performance of the Warriors’ bench this series. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Festus Ezeli combined for 12 points as the Warriors were given little production from its second unit. The energy was positive as Leandro Barbosa and others provided a spark despite failing to make a statistical impact. As the games move on, though, and considering the title aspirations of Golden State, Curry will need greater assistance from those in backup roles.
With the Warriors up 1-0 in the series, New Orleans now shifts its focus to stealing a road win in Game 2. That action will commence on Monday, 4/20 at 10:30 pm ET. Keep your eye on the health status of Evans, and whether or not Thompson can bounce back from a forgettable shooting performance.