Jrue Holiday, Pelicans created blueprint to stop Damian Lillard - and it's working

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Anything can happen for any team, especially a quality team like the Trail Blazers, but it would be hard to bet against a team headed home having just taken games 1 and 2 on the road.

The Pelicans shockingly took the first two games in the series in Portland before enjoying a blowout victory in Game 3 in front of their home crowd. In Game 1, Lillard and CJ McCollum had 37 points combined.

To understand how the Pelicans have slowed down Lillard, you have to understand Lillard's tendencies. According to Second Spectrum data provided by NBA.com, Nurkic averaged a humdrum 1.02 points per possession as a roll man this season. Lillard's efficiency in pick-and-rolls also puts him at the same category as Stephen Curry, who has always been the scariest pick-and-roll scorer in the league.

Remember, Davis' Pelicans earned a playoff spot this season after a two-year hiatus. They don't stay. For example, there are times when the guard caught up, the big could leave. But this is a guy with championship experience that can run things, utilize Anthony Davis. While Mirotic isn't close to being the versatile defender Davis is, he moves his feet well for his size and has enough length to make Lillard uncomfortable whenever he looks to score.

"He went out with a mild injury and just (based on) the matchups, we made a decision to go with Chief (Al-Farouq Aminu) guarding Davis", Stotts said.

The Trail Blazers are struggling and they simply don't seem engaged at this point in time.

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And to this point, Lillard hasn't been able to fight back.

We hit the street to see who could name the most Pelicans players and the results were. not great. However, there needs to be some blame directed at Damian Lillard, the Blazers franchise guard. Against everyone else, the three-time All-Star has made 11 of his 23 shot attempts.

At 6-4 with a 6-7 wingspan, Holiday has the size and length to harass opposing guards and get stops.

A double-double in basketball is the accumulation of a double-digit number total in two of five statistical categories-points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots-in a game.

And then there are the momentum-busting 50-50 plays you just saw in the video above, in which he's blocking shots and winning crucial loose balls.

Holiday is a smart defender, too. It's tough to play against.

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Holiday's ability to defend without fouling has played a big role in keeping Lillard, who has attempted only four three throws in two games, off the foul line. While they're nearly certain to advance to the next round, the Pelicans should still aim for a sweep.

Oh my! The good news is that both Thursday and Saturday's games are sold out.

Though the aggressiveness of Portland center Jusuf Nurkic with the ball in his hands became a storyline early in this series, what to do with him defensively has become an even more puzzling question.

On the flip-side, it's still going so horribly wrong for the Blazers. "I give a lot of credit to them for executing their game plan, seeing two and three guys and making the game hard". Mirotic scored a career-playoff high 30 last night against the Blazers.

Energized on both ends of the court, the Pelicans have the broom ready Saturday at the Smoothie King Center to sweep the faltering Portland Trail Blazers out of the Western Conference playoffs with a fourth consecutive victory in the first-round series.

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