The New Orleans Pelicans playoff mode was on full display during game one of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. However, they weren’t the only ones.
The New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trailblazers, and NBA fans all over got a look at Rajon Rondo in playoff mode. The narrative after the 97-95 victory was that Rondo became “Playoff Rondo”. This isn’t the only player that has transformed his game in the playoffs. Several NBA players have become different versions, of themselves, elevating their game during the playoffs.
However, with Rondo, the situation is somewhat different. Rondo reverted back to his days in Boston. He was in complete control of the floor, the game, and the situation. The Pelicans trusted him and rallied for a game one victory.
I believe that having a veteran player like Rondo with championship experience is critical for the New Orleans Pelicans. This team isn’t the youngest team in the NBA. However, there is a need for a leader to control the emotions of the playoff atmosphere.
Becoming playoff Rondo is something Rondo hasn’t been able to do fully since Boston. There was a brief moment last season in Chicago before a wrist injury sidelined Rondo for the remainder of the series against Boston. The 8th seeded Bulls were up 2-0 on Boston almost solely because of Rondo’s play.
Now, the New Orleans Pelicans can benefit greatly from “Playoff Rondo”. However, other teams are dawning players with playoff names. The Oklahoma City Thunder got a sample of “Playoff P” which is the playoff version of Paul George. The former Indiana Pacer dropped 36 points on the Utah Jazz last night as the Thunder got the win 116-108.
Around the NBA Playoffs, winners and losers from Game 1.
The winners from the first set of games in the NBA playoffs are obviously the New Orleans Pelicans, Indiana Pacers, and Minnesota Timberwolves. New Orleans and Indiana both got game one wins on the road. Indiana’s is somewhat more impressive due to beating the Cavs in Cleveland. The look on LeBron James face during that game was priceless. Victor Oladipo was a monster with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting.
Minnesota lost to Houston in Texas late Sunday night 101-104. However, it was a three-point loss. The Timberwolves stayed the course and hung in there until the end of the game. Houston’s defense on Karl-Anthony Towns was exceptional. Towns scored just eight points on nine shots. Minnesota has to feel good after that loss. They can at least hang with the Rockets. Game 2 of this series should be a good one.
The losers from the first set of games in the NBA playoffs are San Antonio, Cleveland, and Miami. Miami was clocked by Philadelphia 130-103. Ben Simmons and company went full-blown Harlem Globetrotters on Miami. Philly looks like they are NBA Finals bound.
San Antonio’s days are numbered this season. The game one loss to Golden State was eye-opening. Only three players scored in double-digits, and Rudy Gay was the high scorer with 15 points. On Sunday, the news broke that Kawhi Leonard will miss the remainder of the playoffs. There has to be a lot of questions in San Antonio about their future.
Cleveland loss to Indiana was also alarming. Cleveland looked scared of Indy. Almost like Cleveland was a deer in headlights. LeBron James scored 24 points in the 98-80 loss. James was the only starting player in doubles for Cleveland. Jeff Green went 0-of-7, Kevin Love went 3-of-8, and George Hill went 3-of-7. I would assume LeBron James is still yelling at the Cleveland roster in the locker room.
What to expect from the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 2.
I would fully expect for the Portland Trailblazers to adjust their focus and game plan to specifically attack Anthony Davis on the defensive end. Jusuf Nurkic will attempt to frustrate Davis and make him a spot up shooter versus Davis being able to attack off the dribble.
The Pelicans deployed a small rotation against the Blazers in game one. Emeka Okafor, Jordan Crawford, DeAndre Liggins all did not play as it was head coach Alvin Gentry’s decision. I would expect to see some minutes from Okafor to help Davis on the block.
I don’t have a huge problem with Anthony Davis playing 41 minutes with three days of rest following a game. However, this Pelicans team ran out of steam late in game one.
Game two of this best of seven series is on Tuesday, April 17th, at 9:30 PM on TNT.