Top seed Golden State calmly takes care of business to advance
POSTED: Apr 26, 2015 1:21 AM ET
Warriors vs. Pelicans Game 4
Stephen Curry scores 39 points, grabs eight rebounds and hands out nine assists to lead the Warriors to a series-clinching victory over the Pelicans, 109-98.
NEW ORLEANS — No history or histrionics this time. No stuff born of either desperation or destiny.
The Warriors didn't wait to hear the alarm bells clanging to do their thing in Game 4 when it was more efficient and practical to operate with the steady, quiet hum of a working office.
They punched in, they punched out the feisty Pelicans and they punched their ticket to the next round of the playoffs with a 109-98 win and a 4-0 sweep on Saturday night.
"I think we celebrated more after last game," Draymond Green said. "When we got that win we was pretty excited. Today guys dapped each other and 'Hey, great win!' and we're moving on. We didn't really celebrate today. Nobody was as excited as we were the other day."
Of course, there's a reason they have New Year's Eve only once every 12 months, because it would be hard to get everyone pumped up for the countdown and the ball drop, not to mention wearing the fancy clothes, every night.
So it was important for the Warriors to come down 48 hours later off the emotional high of the 20-point comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 3 and simply take care of business. As the team that has set the pace in the NBA practically from opening night of the season and won more games than any other in the history of the franchise, this Golden State bunch still steps into new territory each night it goes out onto the court with more to learn.
"I think just feeling the pressure at home and on the road," said rookie coach Steve Kerr. "We're a favorite with the best record. This team has playoff experience the last few years as an underdog. I think it's easier as the underdog. You just come out and run loose. When you're the favorite it's a little different feeling. So I felt that was important.
"Both home games we felt a lot of pressure. They outplayed us several segments of each game and our guys needed to respond and that was good. To come on the road and win two is a really good accomplishment and something that we can build on."
Especially the way they did it Saturday night. These were the Warriors at their hammer-on-the-anvil, bludgeoning best.
The Warriors defense was back to being its smothering, stifling best. Consider this stat: the Pelicans had zero fast break points.
Green and Curry couldn't have done much more damage setting the tone in the first quarter if they were swinging clubs, filling up the bucket and not letting the Pelicans fill their heads with any more cute notions of pulling off the upset.
And when New Orleans put together a couple of runs to get what was a 24-point lead down to seven on a couple occasions late, Green took a feed from Curry for a tourniquet of a layup and then Thompson buried one more three.
"I'd say we reacted pretty well at the end of Game 3 being down," Kerr said. "But that was a little different because it was desperation and we just had to let it rip.
"Tonight was more indicative of the feeling of being the favorite. You play a great game. You're in control and all of a sudden you're not...Yeah, it was good composure."
Kerr had gone so far as to chastise his team following the morning shootaround for what he perceived was a less than laser focus.
"To be totally honest, Coach got into us," Curry said. "He didn't feel like we had a sense of urgency. But I think if you ask the players, we knew what the mission was and what was at stake."
This is just a collection of unusually loose, amazingly confident, incredibly gifted guys who happen to be good at doing things with a basketball.
As the Pelicans' own otherworldly bundle of splendidness Anthony Davis said about Curry, "Sometimes you think he's just throwing up a shot. But it's a great look for him."
Davis left his mark with 36 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks once again on the Warriors. So much so that Kerr embraced him at mid-court and told Davis that he was happy not to have to see him again until next November.
Or as Curry more succinctly put it: "He's a bad boy."
But it's the bad, bad Warriors who've made this transformation from shoot-from-the-hip underdogs to the No. 1 seed in the entire playoffs as comfortably as slipping into the back of a stretch limo.
"It's a huge difference," Thompson said. "But this is the spot you want to be in. It's what we worked all summer for and all regular season. Still a long ways to go to accomplish what we want to do, but it feels a lot different."
"No," Thompson said. "We've had a bullseye on our back the whole year, so we're used to playing as the hunted. I don't think it makes it any harder. It makes it more fun actually. It's great to have expectations."
And great to keep meeting them with the cool hum of a machine.
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