NBA Playoffs: Can Premier Pelicans Trio Slow Splash Bros?


Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, more commonly known as the “Splash Brothers”,  have become arguably the most dynamic duo in basketball.

The attention is more than well deserved: Curry and Thompson finished first and second respectively in 3 pointers made for the past two seasons, and in the year before last they ranked first and third.

Shutting them both down completely is nearly impossible, but slowing them ever so slightly may just be enough. Luckily for the Pelicans, they may have just the backcourt to do it with.

Mar 9, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Klay Thompson (11) against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Warriors defeated the Suns 98-80. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There were (and still are) plenty of skeptics of the Gordon-Evans-Holiday trio of guards assembled by Dell Demps.

The argument made sense: none of the three were elite perimeter threats, and all liked to dominate the ball and drive to the basket.

The evolution of Eric Gordon this season has helped turn these overlapping skill sets into one of the league’s most diverse backcourts.

Coming into this season, Gordon sported a career three point percentage of 37% a respectable number but nothing special.

This year Gordon has knocked down 45%, a career high good for second in the league behind the superhuman Kyle Korver.

Whether it was accomplished through an intense training regime or simply by taking some of “Steph’s Secret Stuff”, the transformation has been duly noted.

This three point dimension is critical for the Pelican’s offense. Without it, the absence of Holiday would result in a backcourt, and potentially an entire lineup, with no intimidating three point threat.

Last season New Orleans had Anthony Morrow to provide a punch from the perimeter, and he excelled in that role. However, players like Morrow are a liability in pretty much every other aspect of the game.

Gordon is not a game changing defender by any means, but he is more serviceable on that end than Morrow was. He does commit silly fouls more often than he should (and adds fantastic facial expressions when they get called), but Monty Williams can trust Gordon will be able to hold his own.

Against Golden State Gordon will probably be tasked with staying in front of Curry, at least with Evans on the floor with him.

Expecting EG to shut down Curry is not rational, but having him keep pace on offense may be an entirely different story. He has the potential to take over, but has become perfectly fine with spotting up and drilling threes.

If Gordon keeps up his production, his first ever playoff series will be a great one.

Apr 10, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots the ball over Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin (20) during the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tyreke Evans is a guy with a lot to prove, and this series will be the perfect platform to do so.

After his incredible Rookie of the Year season in 09-10, Evans pretty much fell out of the eyes of the national media. Now, in his postseason debut, Tyreke can finally show everyone what they have missed.

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Once Evans took the reins of the offense when Holiday went down, it became clear that being the primary ball handler was where he belonged.

He scored about 16 points per game, while also dishing out 8 assists. The herky jerky drives and acrobatic finishes still hang around, but they now compliment the more complete package that Evans has become.

Apr 7, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

He is still criticized for being too selfish at times, especially when Anthony Davis is on the floor.

As the season has gone on, less and less of Tyreke’s game looks forced and more of it is just going to the flow of the offense.

He can, and has, single handedly carried a stagnant offense on certain nights, and some nights he is just plain bad. But that is acceptable if the rest of the team can pick up the slack.

Evans 6’6″ frame provides an interesting matchup for the Warriors. I imagine Klay Thompson will be on him when the starting lineups are out there, but expect everyone from Harrison Barnes to Andre Iguodala to get involved as well.

He is going to try to get his shot, but has really been great at distributing to teammates when he sees fit

If he can open up the floor for himself and his team like he did against San Antonio, even the best of defenders may have trouble slowing Tyreke Evans.

The x-factor for the Pelicans is Jrue Holiday.

At the point guard position, he may be the best matchup for Stephen Curry in the entire league.

He is about an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier, but does not give up much in the speed department to compensate.

Holiday’s overall athleticism can pose a huge threat to Golden State’s offensive lightning rod, a threat that many people may not realize.

He will be able to switch onto Thompson or whoever else Golden State has out on the floor without giving up too much of an advantage. The Warriors pride themselves with being able to do this to other teams, so Holiday can help give them a taste of their own medicine.

However, these results will not be remotely possible if Holiday cannot stay on the floor.

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He is only three games back from his injury, and had a strict minutes limit of 15 for the first two.

However, he was able to play 25 extremely effective minutes against San Antonio.

Shutting down a hot Tony Parker is not something many can attest to doing: yet Holiday did it Wednesday night. Even if it is only for 25 minutes a game, his presence on the defensive end is a necessity for New Orleans.

Dec 21, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) knocks the ball out of the hands of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Holiday’s defense is a known commodity, but he can also take over a game on offense.

Look no further than the December 14th matchup against Golden State, where he scored 30 points on 50% shooting and dealt out 8 assists in the overtime loss: all without Anthony Davis. He is a jack of all trades on that end, hitting threes, long twos and scoring down low.

Jrue may not be the number one option for the Pelicans, but he was for his old Philadelphia 76ers team. He helped lead his teammates (which includes current Warrior Iguodala) to a round one upset as an eight seed over a Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls squad.

He may only be 24 years old, but Jrue Holiday is the man with the most playoff and leadership experience on this young Pelicans team.

With the help of his fellow guards Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon, they might be able to make things a little interesting against the heavily favored Warriors……

Next: UNGUARDABLE: The Arsenal of Anthony Davis