May 4, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) dunks over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and forward Kevon Looney (5) during the third quarter in game three of the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoff

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Pelicans try to even series against Warriors - 3 keys

Game 4 at 2:30 p.m. in the Smoothie King Center

Seth Dunlap
May 06, 2018 - 10:03 am
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The New Orleans Pelicans will try to even up their series against the Golden State Warriors this afternoon at 2:30 in the Smoothie King Center.   The Pelicans impressively imposed their will in a 119-100 blowout win in Game 3, but the Warriors are the defending champs for the reason.  Everybody believe they will give the Pels a furious counter punch today.  Here are three keys for the Pelicans as they try to defy expectations and turn this series into a best of three affair.

1- PACE, PACE, PACE!

If you've read my previous few previews you know how imperative I believe it is for the Pelicans to continue to play at their trademarked breakneck pace.  They've played at an incredible pace of 109.14 possessions per game the past two contests against the Warriors, blowing by their regular season league leading average of 102.7.   The pace issue is deeper than just the Pelicans trying to "be who they are" -- they've shown a tendency to get bogged down in the half court offense against the lengthy Warriors defense.   Conversely, the Warriors seem perfectly willing, and capable, of dominating the Pelicans defense in their half court sets.  New Orleans must continue to get good, early looks in transition and force the Warriors into their own quick, hopefully contested, shots or turnovers.  

2- 3 Point Shooting

The Pelicans shot a red hot 45% from three point range in Game 3, while holding the Warriors to just 29%.  That was a bit of a reversal from the first two games of the series where the Warriors out shot the Pelicans from long range 36%-33%.  It's been well documented that the team that wins the three point battle more often than not wins the game.  That will likely continue to be true this series.   Nikola Mirotic and E'Twaun Moore must continue to knock down open shots on the perimeter, and having Ian Clark contribute off the bench is equally big.   The Pelicans can't afford to go cold from long range against a team where they have very little margin for error.

3- Bench Production

The Pelicans notably outscored the Warriors 33-20 off the bench in Game 3, thanks in large part to Clark's contribution of 18 points on 7-11 shooting.  The Pels bench isn't deep, usually only rotating in the trio of Clark, Solomon Hill, and Darius Miller.  Yet it's critical that those three players provide quality, productive minutes in relief of the starting five.  Keep a close eye on how productive the Pelicans offense is when one, or more, of those reserves are on the court. 

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