How important is this series for the future of the franchise?
Jason: The Pelicans really aren’t supposed to be in this situation, given the loss of such a big piece in Cousins. That being said, the series has the potential to be huge in importance, as has been the case with seemingly every offseason, every game, and every decision since Davis was drafted. It has been almost seven full years since the city of New Orleans has enjoyed an NBA playoff win. It would help finally solidify Davis as one of the league’s elite players, since the only blemish on his record is a zero in the playoff wins column. It would also help Davis in receiving help, as pitching playoff success to any potential free agent acquisition, including Cousins, can be nothing but positive.
Raby: I’m with Jason for the most part. A good showing in a loss doesn’t kill the Pelicans’ chances to continue on their path to success, but a win can only help. If the Pelicans can win this series and look good against the Warriors/Spurs, players remember that. They’ll see Gentry as the kind of coach who can get results despite a lack of talent, and they’ll want to be the missing piece. However, if the Blazers handle the Pelicans easily, not even the Boogie excuse will save the Pelicans from criticism.
Rory: I’m with Jason and Raby in that for the larger look of the franchise, the Pelicans are in a good spot in regards to this series. A win will set the team up for an even deeper run next year, but a loss can be chalked up to the Cousins injury. I think the true importance centers on Davis and his legacy. A dominant performance leading his team to the second round would cement his status as one of the league’s top-tier players and put him one step closer to being in the same breath as LeBron, Durant, and Curry.