Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday could only manage a half-smile as he thought about the job he was facing on consecutive nights.
After going against the Spurs’ Tony Parker on Monday night in San Antonio, Holiday and the Pelicans (6-7) will be right back at it Tuesday at the New Orleans Arena against Golden State (8-6) and Stephen Curry.
Against Parker, Holiday had to try to slow a sharp-shooting point guard who is extremely adept at the pick-and-roll and who led the league in scoring in the lane.
In Curry, Holiday faces a point guard who last season set a record for 3-pointers with 272. His mindset is to score as many points as possible as rapidly as his team can.
“They are completely different,” Holiday said. “Steph will come down and shoot. I mean, he’ll come down in transition and shoot, even though he’ll go to the basket sometimes. Tony Parker will go to the basket more, but they’re both kind of a one-man fast break. They’re just both very different.”
The Warriors — with Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson, swingman Andre Iguodala, small forward Harrison Barnes and power forward David Lee — are known for getting up and down the court in a hurry.
Entering Monday’s games, the Warriors were first in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 44.4 percent. Thompson led the league in 3-pointers with 46, and Curry (who missed two games with a mild concussion) had 34, tied for ninth. Last season, they set a record for 3-pointers by a tandem with 483.
But the Pelicans may be catching Golden State at the right time. Curry left the Warriors’ game (and didn’t return) Nov. 18 at Utah with the concussion after Jazz forward Marvin Williams fell on his head as the two battled for a loose ball.
Since then, the Warriors are on a three-game losing streak. Curry sat out the first two games, and Iguodala left the second game with a strained left hamstring. Curry returned for the next game, at home against Portland, and posted 22 points and 11 assists. But Iguodala sat that one out, and he remains day-to-day.
A matchup worth watching will be Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis against Lee. The former Florida standout had two memorable games last season against New Orleans, going for 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and nine rebounds in one and 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds in another.
But Curry and Thompson were New Orleans’ main nemeses last season. Curry averaged 21.0 points in three games, and Thompson averaged 20.3. The duo combined for 20-of-41 (48.8 percent) shooting on 3-pointers.
Holiday — who played for Philadelphia last year and wasn’t part of the Pelicans’ struggles against Curry and Thompson — said communication will be important, particularly since the Warriors like to launch 3-pointers in transition.
“We’re definitely talking a lot more, but communication can always be better,” he said. “We’ve gotten better at it. Our bigs in particular are talking more on defense, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”