New Orleans-- The Pelicans have been able to build a 5-game win-streak heading into the playoffs, thanks in a big way to their defense down the stretch.
"For us, our defense starts our offense," said Pelicans guard Ian Clark. "We get stops, AD's getting blocks. We're getting out running and anybody can push it and we don't have to set-up on the offensive end. We're coming-down and we've got Jrue in transition, we've got Niko making shots, Rondo pushing it and from then on we can get whatever we want."
Anthony Davis, who was just named the Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in March and into April, is leading the league in blocks (3.7 during the stretch he earned conference honors for, and 2.5 blocks per game over the course of the regular season). His contributions on both ends of the court have been invaluable.
"Just tenacious basketball," said Davis, who also finished the regular season with 50 double-doubles. "You have me protecting the rim, we were talking, the guards getting to the ball, got a lot of steals, a lot of deflections. That's how we want to play. That fuels our offense."
The 6th-seeded Pelicans head to Portland for their first round best-of-7 series against the 3rd-seeded Trail Blazers. Game one is Saturday night on the road at 9:30 p.m. (CT), followed by game two also in Portland Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. (CT). The Pels host games 3 and 4 next Thursday, April 19 and Saturday, April 21.
"We're trying to be locked-in," Clark said. "We know, come playoff time every possession matters so we've got to make sure that we start now. We can't just turn it on this weekend."