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Warriors close out Pelicans behind flawless ball movement

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The ball hopped from player to player to the tune of 36 assists and one Western Conference Finals bid.

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There are a few rare things in basketball that are so mesmerizing that you cannot leave your seat. It doesn’t matter how much you need another beer, or to empty your bladder - you are not leaving your seat. Your mouth stays agape, your eyes as wide as if you saw sasquatch.

Such is the case when the Golden State Warriors start moving the ball.

Need evidence? I’m sure my partner will vouch for me. I’m fairly certain she tried to converse with me numerous times during Game 5’s third quarter, but I was too mesmerized by the balletic performance in front of me do things like use my ears. Really, who needs those things.

There are a lot of takeaways from the Warriors’ 113-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, which propelled the Dubs to the Western Conference Finals for the fourth consecutive season. Draymond Green had the most Draymondian stat line ever: 19 points, 14 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks. Stephen Curry was enthrallingly efficient, with 28 points on 16 shots, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant.

But goodness gracious, for one game, it was all about sweet, perfect ball movement.

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: The Warriors are the most talented team in the league, by a sizable margin. They are, quite feasibly, the most talented team in NBA history. They don’t need to be at their best to win most games.

But when they are at their best? Lord have mercy, SB Nation would fire me in a heartbeat if I used the words necessary to express exactly what the Warriors do.


The Warriors were decent in the first half. The first quarter was an offensive explosion for both teams, before things settled in the second, and the Dubs took a three point lead to the half. Then the third quarter came, as it always comes. But for the Warriors, it came differently, as it generally does.

It was a 36-19 third quarter that effectively ended the game (though New Orleans did everything in the fourth quarter to make things tense).

The ball never stopped in the third. The team collected 10 of their 36 assists in the frame, and looked as much like a renowned dance troupe playing hot potato as they did like a basketball team.

I had a few plays in the third earmarked to turn into gifs. Instead, let’s just cue up the game highlights and start at the third. They’re all worth watching.


The starters combined for 32 assists, and they weren’t of the standard playmaking variety. It wasn’t one player dribbling around for 15 seconds before creating for their teammate, as we saw the Houston Rockets do earlier in the day. It was merely a team of all-time great players opting to perform selflessly in a way that would make any coach squeal.

For about 10 minutes (things slowed down at the end of the quarter), the Warriors played borderline flawless basketball. It wasn’t a mirage; it’s a setting they keep in the back pocket, ready to unleash at any moment.

And when it’s unleashed, they’re unbeatable.

New Orleans learned that, as so many other teams have over the past four seasons. Here’s to Houston gut-wrenchingly discovering the same.