Arena Rock

With Pelicans in the NBA playoffs New Orleans adds another hot ticket to crowded event season.

           Hats off to the New Orleans Pelicans, especially head coach Monty Williams, on doing what many thought highly unlikely, if not impossible. By getting a win in the very last game of the season, the Pels qualified for the NBA playoffs. They’re bringing post-season basketball to the Crescent City for the first time since 2011 and adding another hot ticket to the city’s late April social calendar.

Even with one of the league’s best young players, most did not expect this team to be as successful as it has been. During the season, there were whispers that for the team to reach the next level, Williams and GM Dell Demps might not be the right men for their jobs going forward. That talk should be put on hold. Williams got his team to respond to his coaching. As crazy as it sounds, that doesn’t always happen in the NBA, where players often have power and influence in selecting incoming management.

Both men need to mention Anthony Davis in their prayers of thanksgiving. The third-year player is living up to and in many ways surpassing expectations that came with being the league’s overall top draft pick in the 2012 Draft. At the beginning of the season he was described as one of the best three players in the league, with the potential to be included among the game’s legends. This season he showed he can improve his game while handling the responsibility of carrying his team. He averaged almost four points per game more this season than last, 24.4 ppg compared to 20.8. He’s provided game winning moments, including hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer with two defenders in his face to give the Pels a 116-113 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder just before the All-Star break. Despite finishing the season with identical records, New Orleans made the playoffs over OKC because they won three of their four meetings with the Thunder. That February game winner proved to give the Pelicans the head-to-head tiebreaker and a birth in the playoffs, New Orleans’ first since 2011.

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Earning the last spot in the playoffs means the Pels begin the postseason against the top seeded team in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors. Led by leading MVP candidate Stephen Curry, the Warriors are considered by many to be the best team in the NBA. It should be a fun series to watch, and tickets, if available, are expected to be at a premium.

It’s great to see. New Orleans is a great event town. Postseason basketball is a thing we could get used to. Plus having a few more occasions to add to the calendar suits us just fine.

Congratulations, Pelicans. Best of luck in the playoffs.

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