By Erik Malinowski
Basketball Reference will forever indicate the Golden State Warriors swept the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of these 2015 playoffs, but box scores have ways of keeping secrets. The series page will show margins of victory of 7, 10, 4 and 11 -- after a 109-98 series clincher in Game 4 -- and it will seem pedestrian to the uninformed, but the Warriors only seemed to be lifted by the quality of their opponent. The Pelicans didn't play like a No. 8 seed, and they deserved better than what they got.
But a No. 8 seed the Pelicans were, and so as a reward they drew the most dominant team in the NBA this season. In his first career playoff series, Anthony Davis averaged 31.5 points, 10.7 boards, and three blocks per contest. The only other players to average at least 30 and 10 in his first four playoff games? Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Warriors coach Steve Kerr touts him after nearly every game as a future MVP, which is psychic in the way that the sun will always rise. But Davis's effort was for naught this time around.
Stephen Curry, the lifeblood of this Warriors team, carried them on his back again. His 39 points consistently kept Golden State afloat when it appeared New Orleans would make a push. His nine assists and eight rebounds were a reflection of a multi-faceted game that seems a full pay grade anyone else's. Klay Thompson pumped in 25 points, and Draymond Green (22 points, 10 boards, eight assists) was again the superlative X-factor that other teams will need to solve if they are to have any chance of toppling this potentially unstoppable team. It sounds like hokum to declare it a mystery how anyone will beat the Warriors four out of seven times -- which would have to include at least one win at Oracle Arena, where Golden State is 41-2 this season -- but whoever can draw up that successful game plan deserves to coach in this league for life.
In the end, it was a tantalizing performance by the Warriors, much closer in DNA to the back-and-forth Games 1 and 2 than the face-numbing comeback in Game 3. That's fine with Kerr, as even-keeled a coach as you're likely to see in these playoffs. Nothing seems to faze him. He prefers to sit on the bench than pace the sideline and rant. Frankly, he hasn't truly had a lot to complain about through four games.
And now Golden State and its fans await the winner of Memphis and Portland. They'd surely prefer to face a banged-up Blazers squad, but that doesn't appear to be in the making. No matter. The Warriors will be ready, come what may.
That's great news for basketball fans, because the only thing potentially more fun than watching the Golden State Warriors play is watching other teams try their best to somehow best them.
Erik Malinowski is a freelance writer in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @erikmal