The sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans beat the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers 131-123 today to complete a first round sweep and advance to the second round where they will like face the Golden State Warriors.
After the Blazers got blasted in Game 3 in New Orleans, today’s game was considerably more competitive; the Blazers just couldn’t turn the corner and pull away. Yet in what many thought would be a competitive series, the Pelicans winning in a sweep is surprising, even if you believed they’d win. And even if you claim not to be surprised, it’s definitely a historical moment: the Pelicans are the lowest seeded team to win the first round in a sweep since the NBA expanded the first round to a best-of-seven series in 2003, based on data published by the New York Times.
Moving forward, the upstart Pelicans advance to the second round where they will likely face the Golden State Warriors, who are ahead of the San Antonio Spurs 3-0 in their series. The Warriors won the regular season series 3-1, but never faced the Pelicans at full strength after the Pelicans added Nikola Mirotic and got hot near the end of the season -- the Pelicans’ lone win against the Warriors came on April 7 when Stephen Curry was out and the Warriors were going through the motions of playing meaningless games. All three of the Warriors’ wins came in the 2017 portion of this NBA season.
So before we get into any really deep analysis we have to start here: you can’t pull much from their regular season matchups because the Pelicans have evolved so much since the Warriors’ last victory against them on December 4 that both teams’ approach should be substantially different.
Also, the Warriors have to do their part to make this series happen anyway.
To discuss the remainder of today’s games in the 2018 NBA Playoffs, check out our Saturday watch thread.