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Warriors vs. Pelicans Preview: Golden State is cast as ‘dream crusher’ in matchup against New Orleans

New Orleans must win to feel good about making the playoffs while the Warriors search for momentum heading into the playoffs.

Golden State Warriors v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors (57-22) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (45-34)

When: 5:30 p.m. PST - Saturday, April 7th, 2018

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

How to watch: NBCSBA

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Blog Buddy: The Bird Writes

Injury Report

Warriors: Andre Iguodala (knee, probable), Shaun Livingston (knee, doubtful), Patrick McCaw (back, out), Omri Casspi (ankle, out), Stephen Curry, (knee, out)

Pelicans: Ian Clark (ankle, out), Frank Jackson (foot, out), DeMarcus Cousins (achilles, out), Alexis Ajinca (knee, out)

Western Conference Drama

As of Friday afternoon, the New Orleans Pelicans have a 60.1% chance to make the playoffs. I write this assuming the Pelicans will beat the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. A Pelicans victory in Oakland tonight will ensure that Anthony Davis and company can sleep soundly heading into their Monday night tilt against the Los Angeles Clippers to conclude the regular season.

The Pelicans were never supposed to contend for a playoff position, but they are, for one reason: Anthony Davis. Since DeMarcus Cousins went down with an achilles tear, Davis has played like the unanimous second most valuable player in the NBA (kudos, James Harden). Without Davis (and Cousins), the Pelicans are a lottery team in June’s draft. He is the judge, jury and executioner of New Orleans basketball without Boogie. He also poses a bad matchup inside for the Warriors. Kevin Durant might be the Warriors’ best option to guard him.

The other substantial Pelicans threat is Jrue Holiday. The New Orleans’ veteran point guard has played like an All-Star against the Warriors this season with 24 and 34-point campaigns in two losses. Quinn Cook will have his hands full with Holiday, who will bring playoff intensity to an important regular season game.

When will the switch be flipped?

The Warriors have known about their playoff status for weeks now — the two seed. This past week the Warriors have been a tale of two teams. After Tuesday’s inspiring win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, the Dubs laid a proverbial egg against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night. The loss left Coach Steve Kerr incensed. He tore into the team on Thursday night calling the effort “pathetic.” When asked about the main problems regarding the loss, Kerr replied, “Caring was the main problem.” Ouch.

Kerr loves this team, but it’s clear that this season has worn on the Warriors. The medicine is obvious: they need Stephen Curry back to regain their positivity and flair. Given the injuries though, the team hasn’t look particularly inspired since the early winter when they were healthy.

Whether or not you believe in momentum, tonight’s game is important — not for the result but for their collective attitude. We have come to expect that the Warriors will have a switch button when they enter the playoffs this season. I believe in a switch button, but I don’t think said switch will catalyze the Warriors to the level of the 2017 squad. I hope I’m wrong. That doesn’t mean they don’t win the Finals. It’s possible the Warriors play the Pelicans in the first round. There’s nothing to lose tonight: play a game like it’s the playoffs and rest guys in the season finale. They can also fold over and lose like Indiana. I’m out of the prediction business until the playoffs start.

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