There aren't many teams in recent history that have come to Oracle Arena to beat the Warriors in a series and succeeded. In fact, the only one in the last three seasons is the 2016 champion Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James. The Pelicans will now turn to their own leader, also among the NBA's elite, Anthony Davis, who says he's playing the best basketball of his career.
"I think the leadership part of it helped me a lot," says Davis. "Being able to get on guys, get on (Rajon) Rondo, get on Jrue (Holiday), and even when (DeMarcus) Cousins was playing, get on Cousins. I had to realize that these guys actually want to be led. So if I just get on them, they'll listen. Trusting that and being able to do that has helped me a lot as a player."
Under the leadership of Davis and Rondo, several others have risen to the occasion during the postseason. That's why head coach Alvin Gentry says their success goes beyond their superstar alone.
"It's not an individual thing," says Gentry. "Not only does he have to play well, but we have to have all of our other guys play well. They're not just concentrating on him. They're concentrating on our entire team."
That's going to be the biggest difference between the last time these two teams met in the playoffs. The Pelicans come to Oracle with Holiday playing the best two-way basketball in the league, an elite floor general in Rondo, and a forward like Nikola Mirotic that's been able to score all over the floor.
That's why when asked about that sweep at the hands of the Warriors three years ago, Davis says that he's a different player on a much different team. And the way they've played over the last few weeks, don't be surprised if we see a different result as well.
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