Last night, third-year forward Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans secured their franchise's first NBA playoff berth since 2011 in dramatic fashion.
In addition to beating a red-hot San Antonio Spurs team that won 11 straight games before last night, they emerged from a fierce Western Conference playoff hunt that saw all five (!) teams in the Southwest division make it, something that had never happened before within the current NBA playoff format.
"Honestly, I know I told ya'll before this game it didn't mean nothing, but I tried to downplay it because I didn't want to get too excited," Davis said. "It meant a lot -- and we played like it meant something." - Anthony Davis, Forward, New Orleans Pelicans
Perhaps more importantly, the Pelicans made it in with 2014-2015 NBA scoring champion Russell Westbrook and his Oklahoma City Thunder hot on their heels every step of the way. To emphasize how close the two teams were in making the playoffs, the Pelicans and Thunder finished with the exact same record. However, the Pelicans held the advantage over the Thunder thanks to this miraculous February game-winning shot:
To say the Pelicans making the playoffs this season was unlikely would be a vast understatement. An ESPN preseason poll picked the Pelicans to finish 10th in the Western Conference with a losing record or 39-43. With a roster anchored by transcendent talent Anthony Davis and several lesser-known but effective role players, this Pelicans team was a far cry from Western Conference powerhouses like the #1 overall-ranked Golden State Warriors or the gritty Houston Rockets. Through perseverance and thanks to a unique but team-oriented roster, the Pelicans have given a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans a team they can believe in and salute.
You can catch Game One of the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors series this Saturday at 3:30 PM on ABC.