While the matchup against New Orleans is a hard one - Rondo and Holiday offer a nasty combination of length and strength, with an otherworldly defender in Anthony Davis backing them up - this is the kind of situation where Portland needs Lillard to lead his team.
The Pelicans needed 4 things in the playoffs - 1/Playoff Rondo - check, 2/AD to be AD - check, 3/Jrue to show he was special - check, and 4/Someone to bring the offense other than the 3 guys first mentioned - check. It is safe to say, however, that no one saw this coming.
The Celtics came close to title No. 18, but Garnett's injuries derailed a potential back-to-back bid and the team fell just five points short in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010. The Pelicans won Game 1 by two points and followed up with a nine-point victory in Game 2.
With Turner out, the Blazers will turn to Maurice Harkless and Pat Connaughton at the wing as Portland look to dig out of a 2-0 series hole. He and the rest of the Blazers should probably bail because this has gotten ugly.
On the season, the Pelicans are averaging 111.7 points, 44.0 rebounds and 26.8 assists per game. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins will have to stand tall in the interior, keying in on stopping Davis on the inside. They built a 16-point lead after one quarter and extended it to as many as 33 in the second half.
I've only seen Jrue Holiday play a handful of times over the last couple seasons and every time I watched the 6-4 point guard, I came away really impressed by his demeanor, skill set and how he was just straight ballin'. Pelicans guards Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo have hounded Lillard and McCollum into 39 percent shooting and a woeful 24:22 assist-to-turnover ratio. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry says Holiday is among the best two-way players in the National Basketball Association. It was all Pelicans Thursday night, but they're not done yet. "And I think that's where Cousins wasn't a value add for New Orleans this year". The 6-10 Montenegrin lit up the Blazers for a playoff career-high 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting. He's scored 20-plus points in six of his past eight outings when New Orleans' season teetered from possibly out of the playoff picture to in.
People in the city are starting to catch Pelicans Fever, even if they aren't exactly sure who they're cheering for.
NEED TO KNOW: San Antonio is 30-8 at home this season, but coach Gregg Popovich stressed playing on the road isn't why the Spurs dropped the first two games.
Last spring, it was once again Rondo who emerged to lead Jimmy Butler, Wade, and the poorly constructed Chicago Bulls to a 2-0 series lead against his former team, stealing both wins on the top-seeded Celtics' home court, no less. This time New Orleans wanted to build an insurmountable lead in response. They have to get back into the series by winning also games on the road. However, there needs to be some blame directed at Damian Lillard, the Blazers franchise guard. Lillard hasn't been as much of a liability this season, and teams aren't targeting him on that end as much.
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