Blazers earn No. 3 seed, will face Pelicans in playoffs


Gayle Benson arrived for the New Orleans Pelicans playoff opener Saturday (April 14) about two hours before the opening tip against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers (21-20 away from home) and Pelicans are two of just 10 teams with a winning road record this season.

Though his season was cut short due to a torn left Achilles, New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins managed to pull off a feat only achieved by one other player in National Basketball Association history.

It a complete effort by New Orleans' starting five, which each scored at least 13 points and finished plus-15, never allowing San Antonio to pull within single digits in the second half. It served as a microcosm for everything New Orleans has done well the second half of the season, taking advantage of every opportunity to run in transition and quickly built an insurmountable lead.

Nurkic can afford to let Davis get 25-27 points, but he needs to make him work for them and must stay out of foul trouble because the Blazers are low on frontcourt depth. Three players had a double-double, as well: Davis, Rondo and Nikola Mirotic.

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"Dame had a hell of a game, but it's playoffs and you can put everything behind what happened before", Stotts said. But late this season, he shaved his beard, joined the starting lineup and he's been thriving ever since, scoring no fewer than 21 points in a game during the Pelicans' season-ending five-game winning streak. Its the Blazers' first division title since the 2014-15 season.

Pelicans: New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry is a believer in "Playoff Rondo", the idea of Rondo elevating his game in the postseason.

HIGH MILEAGE: CJ McCollum topped the National Basketball Association for the most miles on the court this season with 218. There was no stopping an attack led by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, which propelled this team to victory. Anthony Davis had 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Portland Trail Blazers 97-95 in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Games 5, 6 and 7 (if necessary) would be Tuesday April 24 (Portland), Thursday April 26 (New Orleans) and Saturday April 28 (Portland).