Game 4 was the epitome of the series: The Warriors cruised to a sizable lead, then, behind Davis, the Pelicans came back, and the Warriors held off the charge to emerge victorious.
Stephen Curry was absolutely incredible once again. The box score line -- 39 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds -- doesn't give justice to his impact. His three-point shooting is such a threat for any opponent that it has to change its defensive scheme. That's what the Pelicans did, switching more and putting Ryan Anderson and defensive monster Anthony Davis on Curry to contest his shots. And even with Anthony Davis bothering him on the perimeter, Curry still went wild. As our Andy Liu broke down, Curry won the battle against the most lethal of defenders in Davis.
Because the Pelicans had Davis switch more on the perimeter to key in on Curry, that meant more rebounding chances for Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and the Warriors as a whole. Indeed, the Pelicans, who had a 51.1 percent rebounding rate in the regular season, saw that advantage disappear completely when Curry was on the floor in this series. When Curry was on the floor, the Warriors -- the team with just one "traditional big man" and four starters under 6'8'' -- had nearly a 55 percent rebounding rate; when he was on the bench, on the other hand, the Pelicans grabbed nearly 60 percent of all rebounds (h/t Ethan Strauss of ESPN). Draymond was crucial all night long, not just on the boards but within every aspect of the game: A game-best plus-minus of plus-18 and a near-triple-double: 22 points (20 in the first half!), ten boards, eight assists -- and brilliant defense on Anthony Davis.
Let us not forget about the Warriors' second All-Star, either. Klay Thompson played excellent this whole series, and in Game 4 his 25 points were immensely important. He exploded for ten consecutive points that kept the Pelicans down 13 going into the half. A fast-break runner off the glass over Anthony Davis. Then, off a broken play where Davis blocked Harrison Barnes and Green at the rim, he hit a three from the corner. After that, some good perimeter ball movement resulted in an open wing three-pointer for Klay: Splash. Two plays later, Klay eluded Davis with a stop-on-a-dime pump-fake and hit a midrange jumper. The Pelicans would never get closer than seven after that, late in the fourth quarter.
And when that happened, with a minute remaining, Klay iced the game with another three-pointer, off of the hallmark of Steve Kerr's offense: Ball movement.
All five players touch the ball within seconds. That's positively Spursian. https://t.co/UKi9zdDPE7— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 26, 2015
That's the growth of the Warriors this season, in one six-second clip. All five players moving the ball, passing up good shots to get a great one. That is why they are going to the second round. What a series. The Pelicans gave the Warriors a good fight, but in the end it was just not enough. Golden State is through to the second round, and with that gains a week of hard-earned rest.