The New Orleans Pelicans arrived in San Francisco Thursday night with their game faces on, ready to embrace the challenge ahead: taking on the NBA-best Golden State Warriors on their home court Saturday afternoon.
This will be a growing experience for a young New Orleans squad with precious little playoff experience, aside from Quincy Pondexter, Norris Cole and Ryan Anderson. The team has already put the celebration of Wednesday’s victory over the Spurs behind them to focus in on the task at hand.
But what a celebration it was. Team owner Tom Benson came in the locker room to tell the team how proud he was. Anthony Davis was dancing around the room, and coach Monty Williams gave anemotional speech followed by a team prayer.
"First of all, I want to tell you I love you," Williams told his team. "This is why I push. This is why we coach the way we do. This is why we pray. Three weeks ago, everyone counted us out, we had that conversation. We were three games out. Now look at us. This is why we never give up. It’s like we work like we work. It’s a great lesson for all of us."
A lesson this team is carrying into the Bay Area in a David versus Goliath showdown.
But the Pelicans still have a chip on their shoulder, not just from the doubters, but from the Warriors themselves.
Earlier this month, the Warriors played the Pelicans in New Orleans, and some members of Golden State referred to the matchup as a "scrimmage game" to the Pels’ players. After New Orleans defeated the Warriors 103-100, Davis said in his post game interview that the Pelicans took those comments personally and considered them highly disrespectful. Davis and company have not forgotten what was said on April 7.
"We’re not done yet," Quincy Pondexter told his teammates after Williams’ speech Wednesday night. ""Let’s go get this scrimmage!"
Pelicans at Warriors, Saturday, April 18, on ABC *2:30 CT
Pelicans at Warriors, Monday, April 20, on FOX Sports New Orleans *9:30 CT
Warriors at Pelicans, Thursday, April 23, on FOX Sports New Orleans *8:30 CT
Warriors at Pelicans, Saturday, April 25, on FOX Sports New Orleans *7:00 CT