No. 2 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (58-24) vs. No. 6 NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (48-34)
• Golden State and New Orleans are meeting in the playoffs for the second time. The Warriors swept the Pelicans in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.
• The Warriors-Pelicans 2015 playoff series produced one of the most memorable postseason games in recent memory. In Game 3, Golden State rallied from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime. Stephen Curry scored 40 points, including a memorable game-tying three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in regulation.
• The Pelicans are hot. Their first-round sweep of Portland (the second playoff series victory in franchise history) gave them a nine-game winning streak dating to the regular season. The unbeaten stretch includes an April 7 regular-season victory at Golden State that snapped a 10-game regular-season losing streak to the Warriors. Going back a few months, New Orleans is 24-8 since Feb. 10 (combined regular season and playoffs).
• New Orleans led by double digits in all four regular-season games against Golden State, but the Warriors rallied to win three of the four.
• Golden State’s Kevin Durant is a longtime admirer of New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. When Davis congratulated Durant on winning the 2013-14 NBA MVP, KD told Davis that he was “next in line” for the award. Davis may earn the highest MVP finish of his career this season, and he dominated Portland in the first round (33.0 ppg).
• Golden State’s Andre Iguodala and New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday were 76ers teammates for three seasons (2009-12). Those were the first three NBA seasons for Holiday, who credits Iguodala for taking him under his wing and showing him how to be pro. Holiday has been one of the stars of the playoffs (27.8 ppg, 6.5 apg), while Iguodala has been effective replacing Stephen Curry in the Warriors’ starting lineup.
• Nikola Mirotic (Montenegro) and Rajon Rondo have been instrumental in the Pelicans’ recent success. They were Bulls teammates last season but were split up when Chicago waived Rondo last June – a disappointment to Mirotic, who loved playing with Rondo. The two reunited in the middle of this season when Mirotic was acquired from Chicago in a trade. In the first round against Portland, Rondo averaged 13.3 assists and Mirotic averaged 18.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field.
• Rajon Rondo begins this series ranked 16th on the NBA’s all-time playoff assist list with 924. He could pass No. 15 Kevin Johnson (935 assists) and No. 14 Bob Cousy (937) as soon as Game 1. No. 13 Jerry West (970) and No. 12 Isiah Thomas (987) are in Rondo’s sights as well.
• Golden State’s David West spent his first eight NBA seasons with New Orleans, making two All-Star teams and teaming with Chris Paul to help the franchise win a playoff series for the first time (2007-08 season). West is the franchise leader in games played and was surpassed by Anthony Davis as the team scoring leader this season. He has deep roots in the city and took an active role in recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. One of the NBA’s most respected players, West remains productive at age 37. He was a first-round pick (18th overall) in the famed 2003 NBA Draft that produced LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
• New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry was the associate head coach under Golden State head coach Steve Kerr during the Warriors’ 2014-15 championship season. Gentry was also Phoenix’s head coach when Kerr was the team’s general manager nearly a decade ago. The two are very close.
• This should be an up-tempo series. This season, New Orleans played at the NBA’s fastest pace and Golden State was fifth. The Pelicans have been rolling with a small-ball lineup featuring Anthony Davis at center, Nikola Mirotic at power forward and three guards. The Warriors, of course, are small-ball kings.
• New Orleans general manager Dell Demps began his NBA career with Golden State, playing two games for the Warriors during the 1993-94 season. He attended high school in the East Bay, not far from Oracle Arena.
• Stephen Curry made an NBA-record 13 three-pointers in a win over New Orleans on Nov. 7, 2016.
• New Orleans’ Ian Clark spent the previous two seasons with Golden State, while the Warriors’ Quinn Cook spent part of last season with the Pelicans. Both undrafted guards are NBA G League alums.
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