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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 7:00 AM

The marquee matchup Saturday afternoon in the NBA Playoffs features top seed from the West Golden State at home against the hard-finishing New Orleans Pelicans. The Pellies had to beat serious championship contender San Antonio Wednesday night just to get into the brackets. Golden State’s been coasting as the #1 seed for weeks.

Can the Warriors flip their switch back on now that it’s time to play for a championship? Can New Orleans maintain their intensity after climbing the most important mountain in the franchise’s short history just a few days earlier? Most pundits expect this to be a one-sided series because that’s what usually happens when #1 plays #8. But…most pundits expected the Spurs to end NO’s season a few nights ago. Never count out the Unibrow!

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about this Western Conference matchup…as we begin our series of conference previews here in the NOTEBOOK. You basketball regulars know we focus on “efficiency” stats which adjust for tempo. It’s served our purposes very well on these pages for YEARS!


Offensive Efficiency

New Orleans: 105.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #9 in the NBA)

Golden State: 109.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)

Golden State just missed finishing #1 on both sides of the floor in terms of efficiency. They had a regular season of historic proportions when you consider they were playing at such a dominant level in a killer conference. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that their high offensive totals are the result of pace alone. They do push tempo…but they’re extremely efficient at that fast pace because they make so many treys. New Orleans is better than many realize, as we discussed in our Wednesday preview. They have a top 10 offense once you adjust for how slowly they play. Edge to the Warriors….but probably not as much as casual fans are thinking.


Defensive Efficiency

New Orleans: 104.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #22 in the NBA)

Golden State: 98.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)

This is where casual fans, and too many studio pundits have it wrong. Golden State has a fantastic defense, which is hidden by their fast pace. They get a lot of stops and steals. New Orleans has a decent defensive reputation because they play low scoring games. That’s an illusion created by pace. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this series is all about Golden State’s offense vs. the New Orleans defense. Golden State is a true juggernaut on both sides of the floor. The possession-by-possession strength of New Orleans is on offense.


Pace Ranking

New Orleans: #27

Golden State: #1

Clearly a battle of wills here. Golden State will try to push tempo so they can run away and hide. New Orleans will try to slow things down so they can hang close and try to steal a game or two through the best-of-seven. In the playoffs, normally the better team gets to choose its pace in the early rounds. Later on, things slow down because every possession means so much. This category could prove to be a headache for the Warriors vs. the league’s elite. Probably not an issue here. The Pellies aren’t good enough yet to impose their will on great teams.


Against the Spread

New Orleans: 45-37

Golden State: 47-34-1

Both teams were money-makers this season. The market took FOREVER to acknowledge how great the Warriors had become. Eventually the price caught up and GS lost value. New Orleans kept right on grinding, with a late flurry padding pockets of their backers. For the full season, Golden State was the more underrated of the two. You can make the case that entering the playoffs, New Orleans is probably the more underrated RIGHT NOW.

JIM HURLEY has been preparing for the playoffs for WEEKS because you usually can narrow down the possibilities before the All-Star Break. He and his full team of experts are certainly ready to hit the ground running. You can purchase opening day selections Saturday before the Washington/Toronto game formally tips off the postseason. Then, visit every day to GET THE MONEY!

Use your credit card to get BEST BETS right here at the website. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours (or Saturday morning before the first tip). Remember to ask about extended packages that take you through the NBA Championships in June or baseball’s All-Star Break.

Here’s the coming NOTEBOOK schedule of series previews/commentary:

Saturday: Dallas at Houston

Sunday: San Antonio at the Los Angeles Clippers

Monday: Milwaukee at Chicago (series notes and a review of Game One)

Tuesday: Boston at Cleveland (series notes and a review of Game One)

Wednesday: Portland at Memphis (series notes and a review of Game One)

Thursday: Checking in on either Golden State/NO or Cleveland/Boston

Friday: Toronto at Washington (series notes and a review of Games One)

Saturday: Atlanta at Brooklyn (series notes and a review of Games One and Two)

Day by day…round by round…stick with us in the NOTEBOOK until the 2015 NBA Champion is crowned. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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