A win on Monday was big. A win on Tuesday would be even bigger.
A win won’t technically clinch the Warriors ticket to the postseason, but it essentially will. And best yet? It’s the final road game of the year for the Dubs. After tonight they’re headed home to their Bay Area beds to finish off the final six games of the year.
One note before we dive into the preview: we’re testing a live chat instead of a game thread tonight, so come hang out.
Who: Golden State Warriors (33-32) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (29-36)
When: 5:00 p.m. PT
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area+ (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Pelicans: Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Willy Hernangómez
Warriors: Beat the Pelicans 123-108 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Pelicans: Lost to the Warriors 123-108 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):
Warriors: 110.1 offense (24th), 110.9 defense (7th), -0.8 net (20th)
Pelicans: 114.7 offense (10th), 114.9 defense (26th), -0.2 net (18th)
The Warriors know how to beat the Pelicans. They showed the blueprint on Monday. Keep the ball moving and attack regularly against a disjointed and undisciplined defense. Hound Zion Williamson at the rim, force Brandon Ingram into uncomfortable and low-efficiency shots, and make Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe beat you. Scrap and hustle and play like the better team.
Now they just need to repeat that and they’ll be, in a word, golden.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.
Curry put on a show on Monday night, dropping in 41 points and 8 assists, and bombing in 8 shots from deep. He cooked Eric Bledsoe. He cooked Lonzo Ball. He got switches with Zion Williamson and Willy Hernangómez and he cooked them.
Against a bottom-five defense, the Warriors should be able to play strong team offense. But as Curry proved on Monday, sometimes the best offense is just putting the ball in the hands of an all-time great scorer, and letting him take advantage of a defense with myriad holes in it.
Pelican to watch: Lonzo Ball.
Ball is listed as questionable, so perhaps he won’t play. He did suit up on Monday, and while many people — myself included — would have been very much in favor of the rumored Ball for Kelly Oubre Jr. trade that was surely never actually on the table, his performance in the first game of the doubleheader made some fans reconsider. He shot just 3-for-18, and finished with 7 points.
He’s a good player though, and good players usually bounce back.
Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Zion Williamson.
I don’t think I have to hype this matchup up. It’s two of the most unique players, not just currently in the NBA, but of all time. Green showed Williamson some tricks on Monday that the second-year phenom probably hadn’t seen before, but Williamson also had his fair share of moments.
Watching them learn from the first matchup and adjust for a second one will be a treat.
Keys to victory
- Start fast again, and put the Pelicans in a hole
- Don’t let Zion Williamson live at the free throw line, and avoid the fouls
- Let chef Steph Curry cook
Get ‘em again, Dubs.