The Golden State Warriors entered their first round playoff matchup with the New Orlean Pelicans, and the playoffs in general, as the favorite, a role they haven’t experienced in their last two playoff runs. Since they were not only favored to win the series against the Pelicans but also to win it fairly handily, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that the Warriors were able to pull off the four-game sweep of the Pelicans in the first round.
A playoff sweep is impressive, regardless of the opponent, because it suggests dominance, but for the Warriors, there’s nothing to celebrate yet. The Warriors have bigger goals in mind this year, and they are doing everything they can to prepare correctly and ultimately achieve that goal of winning an NBA title.
The Warriors made a statement in Game Three when Stephen Curry made a miraculous three-point shot at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. There were several moments in Game Three, and some in Games One and Two also, when the Pelicans put up a good fight and were competing harder than the Warriors were. But with that Game Three win, the Warriors showed they can overcome anything. They can be down 20 points heading into the fourth quarter, and they can still win, because they have that much talent, determination, and firepower.
This series proved as a test for the Warriors. They haven’t experienced a playoff series in the past few seasons where they were favored to win, and according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes the Warriors had to learn how to win as the favorites.
“We learned about just feeling the pressure both at home and on the road,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We had the best record. This team has playoff experiences the past two years as an underdog. I think it’s easier as an underdog because you just come out and play loose. The favorite is a little different feeling.”
Winning Game Four in New Orleans was a test for the Warriors too, and they clearly passed. Closing out a series sweep can be extremely tough. Just ask the Chicago Bulls.
If the Warriors lost, they would’ve gone back to Oracle Arena and would have had the chance to win the series in front of their home crowd in Game Five, but the Warriors understand the importance of closing out series early and getting as much rest as possible during the playoffs.
“This was a business trip, and we had a business-like mentality,” Warriors backup point guard Shaun Livingston said. “We were sharp, we executed, we defended and we paid attention to detail. We came with an edge.
“We all understood the magnitude of the opportunity, and we took care of business.”
Curry also spoke about the importance of the series sweep with Monte Poole of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, and he discussed the Warriors’ focus on the second round.
“It’s big because you keep that winning mentality, but we still feel that we can play better and more consistently,” Stephen Curry said. “That will the mission over the next week, before we start Round 2.
“I’m proud of the way we played and the way we competed. Going 4-0 is a good feeling. Now we can rest up, figure out who we will play and keep it moving.”
Anthony Davis is an NBA superstar, and his Pelicans team played harder than the sweep will suggest. But this was the first step in the journey for the Warriors. Instead of celebrating it though, they are focused on the next round. It’s time for them to rest up before the second round and continue to push towards their goal.
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