The Pelicans have the Trail Blazers against the ropes in their first-round playoff series thanks largely in part to their mid-season growth as a defensive force. The Pels have locked in on that side of the ball out of necessecity, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.
Prior to the season-ending injury that sidelined DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans were an offense first team. Without the imposing superstar frontcourt, however, the team has had to find new ways to win.
The Pelicans have had the fourth best defensive rating in the NBA since February 1, not long after Cousins went down. Before that point, however, they ranked 23rd.
There’s more out of New Orleans:
- Injured big man DeMarcus cousins sat on the sidelines when the Pelicans beat the Trail Blazers in Game 3 of their first-round series yesterday. As Mike Triplett of ESPN writes, the center received a predictable standing ovation.
- After coming over to the Pelicans in a mid-season trade, Nikola Mirotic is raising his game. “He’s just been locked in, our guys really have a lot of confidence in him,” head coach Alvin Gentry told William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. “I think he’s in a good place now. He’s well aware of where he fits in with this team and what he’s capable of doing. It’s not just him shooting the ball, he’s made a lot of really good plays and some nice cuts.“
- In three playoff games this spring, 32-year-old Rajon Rondo is averaging 12.7 points and 12.3 assists per game. This isn’t the first time the crafty point guard has thrived in the postseason, something that ESPN’s NBA Twitter account was happy to point out.