It might be foolish to count out Anthony Davis entirely.
The 22 year-old superstar is arguably the best player in basketball, and just enjoyed a playoff debut befitting his status as an up-and-coming all-time great. His New Orleans Pelicans made a furious fourth quarter rally to scare the league’s best team in Game 1, are playing with house money after surprising the masses by earning a postseason berth at all, and will get two games at an undoubtedly raucous Smoothie King Center before their first round series is over.
All that said, Davis and the Pelicans can’t and won’t beat the Golden State Warriors. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t publicly insist otherwise.
Just wait ’til Steph Curry and company catch wind of those comments. Talk about bulletin board material!
The truth belies the narrative behind that surface-level takeaway, though. While Davis’ quote no doubt rabbles the masses of blue-and-gold clad fans throughout the Bay Area, you can bet the Warriors pay it little or no attention whatsoever. Golden State doesn’t need any extra motivation to beat New Orleans – it has enough after two years of playoff frustration helped spur them to 67 wins and status as championship co-favorites at the very least.
The Warriors understand Davis’ sentiment because it’s one they carried as the upstart playoff team against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs two years ago. Curry and company believed enough to beat the depleted Nuggets in round one, and kept believing even after they let an opportunity to take the first two games from the eventual conference champions slip away come the next series. Confidence is of utmost importance in sports, a trait all professional athletes have as individuals but need to instill and foster on a team-wide level.
That’s what Davis is doing. Teams and fan bases follow the moves of their leader, and the precocious youngster’s public defiance to an expected easy Golden State victory ensures the Pelicans and their faithful will follow him even more stridently. It will take a herculean collective effort of which New Orleans surely isn’t capable to beat the Warriors, but it wouldn’t even be possible unless the thought to do so didn’t exist at all.
Piggybacking on his 35-point, four-block performance and his team’s late-game success on Saturday, Davis is simply making sure it does. And while that will only further incense the Oracle Arena crowd for tonight’s Game 2, don’t be fooled into thinking the Warriors will use their opponent’s confidence to provoke more urgency. Golden State has plenty already, and understands the basis of Davis’ belief – it used the same kind years ago to get here in the first place.