OAKLAND -- The encore is, on paper, easier for the Warriors because Stephen Curry will be on the court Tuesday night when they face the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series.
Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:30pm with Warriors Outsiders, with postgame coverage immediately following the final horn.
After clobbering the Pelicans in Game 1 without Curry, the Warriors are primed to take command against a New Orleans team that entered the series as the hottest in the NBA. Curry's return should make a Pelicans recovery considerably tougher.
That Curry is expected to start and will not be under a minutes restriction gives Steve Kerr the option to open the game with the Hamptons 5, wherein Curry is joined by Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
Warriors by 11
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Rajon Rondo: Curry gives the Warriors an entirely different look, as they now will have at least three live shooters on the court the majority of the time. Curry tends to return with a vengeance, and you can be sure Rondo knows the history. Expect Rondo to get physical in hopes of frustrating Curry. Whichever of these elite PGs performs best likely lifts his team to victory.
Warriors: G Stephen Curry (L MCL sprain) is listed as probable. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.
Pelicans: C Alexis Ajinca (R knee injury), DeMarcus Cousins (L Achilles rupture) and G Frank Jackson (R foot fracture) are listed as out.
Mike Callahan, Jason Phillips, Sean Wright, Ron Garretson (alternate)
The Warriors cruised to a 123-101 victory in Game 1. They beat New Orleans in three of four meetings this season and are xx-xx against the Pelicans in the Steve Kerr era.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
CHEF CURRY: Curry's return after a five-week absence is sure to send a wave of energy rolling through teammates and fans at Oracle. He'll be itching to make some noise, and he'll get his share of opportunities. If Curry gets hits a few shots early, the Pelicans should pack up and head for New Orleans at halftime.
THE D: After playing ordinary defense in the first quarter of Game 1, the Warriors turned it up, diving and scrambling and never letting the Pelicans get comfortable. New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry cited 12 turnovers, but also noted that it felt like 25 with so many bad shots giving the ball back to the Warriors.
KD/AD: Kevin Durant was superior to Pelicans New star Anthony Davis in Game 1. The two defended each other infrequently on occasion, with the Warriors often sending a help defender when Davis was in the paint. It was successful. On offense, Curry's return gives Durant considerably more space to operate.