Back on January 27, 2018, the New Orleans Pelicans were dealt a major blow when center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a ruptured achilles late in the fourth quarter of the team’s 115-113 victory over the Houston Rockets. At the time of Cousins’ injury, the Pelicans were sitting at 27-21 and in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
Since DeMarcus went down, New Orleans has limped to a 4-5 record and currently only sit a half game in front of the Los Angeles Clippers for the final spot in the playoffs. The Pelicans’ struggles come despite making a deal for Nikola Mirotic on February 2 in an attempt to replace the hole left by Cousins down low.
New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was recently asked by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols how much of an impact DeMarcus Cousins’ injury has had on the team and he didn’t hold back.
“We could have gone through the playoffs. No one could really stop us as bigs. We go to the Finals if we went,” Davis said.
Rajon Rondo told Anthony the same thing.
“[Teammate Rajon Rondo] reminds us of it: ‘You guys are the two best bigs. I know what it takes to win championships; we got it.'”
It’s rather interesting to hear how much the Pelicans believe they could’ve made the Finals. Not only would it have been difficult just for the team to make the playoffs, but New Orleans would’ve had to go through the likes of the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs just to reach the Finals.
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) February 19, 2018
At the same time, Davis’ comments speaks to the confidence that the team had entering the second half of the season. With possibly the two best big men in the NBA, the Pelicans truly felt like there was no team in the league that could beat them in a seven-game series.
Now, Davis believes that his job is to put the team on his back.
“When he goes down, it’s, all right, it goes back to AD before DeMarcus, a lot of minutes, weight of the world on your shoulders,” Davis said. “You know, you gotta carry the team on your back, you gotta almost get 40 every night for us — to give us a chance to win.”
In the nine games without Cousins, Anthony is averaging 31.3 points and 12.2 rebounds in 37.1 minutes per game. If the New Orleans Pelicans are going to sneak into the Western Conference playoffs, Davis is going to have to keep up that ridiculous level of play for the remaining 25 games.