New Orleans Pelicans: Playoff Rondo and dark horse potential in the West

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Rajon Rondo
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Rajon Rondo /

The emergence of Playoff Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic could help power the New Orleans Pelicans as the playoffs quickly approach

Nikola Mirotic has been fitting quite nicely as a slow, but sure, pile-driver in the New Orleans Pelicans offense. Whether it’s stretching leads or quelling comebacks with his walk-up 3’s, it’s pretty clear that Mirotic has helped.

The mid-season of Mirotic and Anthony Davis’ recent absurd play is what has made the Pelicans one of the dangerous dark horse teams in the Western Conference.

What also sets the Pelicans apart from other dark horse teams gunning for the NBA playoffs is the return of Rajon Rondo as a force in the lineup, even as a second unit guard. The stat sheet may not paint the true picture of what’s happening on the court, but Rondo on the floor in the second half of games makes the Pelicans a stronger finishing team.

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When the NBA playoffs begin, the Pelicans are built – even without DeMarcus Cousins – to be one of the most dangerous teams not named Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets.

Even though he’s had his ups and downs, it’s pretty clear that the presence of Rajon Rondo matters in the playoffs. Even with the Chicago Bulls, Rondo has been effective.

You could make the argument that the enigmatic Bulls, last season, would have beaten the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs had the pass-first point guard not have gotten injured. He also averaged nearly a triple-double during his two games against the Celtics last season (12 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds).

He may be a headache at times, but he’s the type of veteran player – and leader – that you want in the playoffs.

With Anthony Davis pounding the rim from every direction while Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo run rings around the perimeter and feed their teammates to score at will, the Pelicans will be a load to deal with in the postseason.

In a recent match against one of the East’s top seeds, the Pelicans beat the Boston Celtics 108-89, where reserve Cheick Diallo and Nikola Mirotic combined for 33 points and 16 rebounds off the bench.

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The New Orleans Pelicans can play with the best of them, and if they continue this hot play into the postseason, the Western Conference first round could be very interesting.