The New Orleans Pelicans are the NBA playoff team no one saw coming. They weren’t supposed to be the first squad that secured entry into Round 2. Few people picked them to beat the Portland Trail Blazers at all. They sure as hell weren’t supposed to complete a sweep—and be the only team to do so.
But that’s exactly what the Pelicans did. And now, as they wait for Round 2 and the likely matchup with the Golden State Warriors it brings, they’re left to hear about how they’ve peaked.
Anthony Davis doesn’t care, though. As he said on Tuesday, per Pelicans.com’s Jim Eichenhofer:
Anthony Davis, when asked about the likelihood that #Pelicans will be underdogs, or not given much of a chance to win, in second round: "I don’t care what people say. We know what we’re capable of. We’re a great team who deserves to be here."
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) April 24, 2018
Cliche disclaimer: Davis shouldn’t be expected to say anything else. Professional athletes are typically confident in themselves and their team. It should come as no surprise that Davis doesn’t think the Pelicans will merely be a stepping-stone into the Western Conference Finals.
At the same time, you can sense an extra trace of defiance in Davis’ voice. He’s only appeared in eight playoff games for his career. Everyone wrote off the Pelicans immediately after DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury. Some didn’t even have them making the playoffs at full strength.
To be here, on the back of a four-game dispatch of the Blazers, is a big deal. And the Pelicans are playing fantastic basketball. Davis has been otherworldly over the past few months. The same goes for Jrue Holiday. Playing them beside E’Twaun Moore, Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic has as amounted to a two-way cheat code.
Facing the Warriors will present a different challenge, even if Stephen Curry isn’t ready to roll right away. The Pelicans will not be favored. Nor should they be. But they do, it seems, have the capacity to be more than fold-over foe. At the very least, with the way they’re playing, they should be a five-to-six-game thorn in Golden State’s side.