Where do the Pelicans have an advantage?
Jake: There are a number of places where you have to feel very good about the Pelicans in this series. Playoff Rondo is a real thing and we’ve already been watching him for the past 5 games. Ian Clark has done damage to the Blazers the past two years in the playoffs and makes the guard rotation more flexible and deeper. I think they also have the mental edge in this series. The Pelicans were 24-17 on the road this year with double digit comeback wins over good teams (the Bucks and Spurs comes to mind). New Orleans isn’t scared of walking into a hostile arena, and that bodes well for this team to steal game 1.
Jason: Anthony Davis is the best player on both sides of the floor, and the Pelicans have a star guard who actually plays defense. That’s about it as far as obvious advantages, but the playoffs are often about star power, and the Pelicans could potentially ride that to steal a few victories, even in a hostile environment such as Portland, since they’ve been one of the better road teams in the NBA this season.
Raby: Besides the obvious case of Davis, I think Rondo gives the team an edge. He’s been a champion, and he gives the team a focus and toughness that Portland may not have. The Blazers are a young team, and while championship experience isn’t the end-all, be-all, it may be just enough to make a difference against two teams that match up well against one another.
Rory: Holiday has been getting more recognition recently, but his importance is still underrated. If Holiday can continue to be an elite defender and drop 25, the Pelicans will be tough to beat. If Holiday has an even average series, the Pelicans could be in trouble.
Alex: Weirdly enough, I think playoff experience in key positions. Rondo and Clark have both won titles. Clark in particular won his titles in Golden State on teams that beat Portland. Kerr loved to use Clark on defensive against Lillard and Clark won’t feel the pressure to go beyond what the team needs to win close games. And playoff Rondo is real.