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There were some tense moments late, thanks in large part to a 20-point fourth-quarter explosion by superstar Anthony Davis, but for the most part, the Golden State Warriors ably handled the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday in Game 1 of the two teams' opening-round playoff series. The No. 1-seeded Dubs exploded out of the gate, rolling up a 10-point lead just eight minutes into the game and leading by as many as 25 late in the third quarter. As you might expect, the Oracle Arena faithful were in full throat, "a gold shirt-wearing sellout crowd of 19,596 that rocked and roared most of the afternoon," according to Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press.
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That's nothing new for the crowd at Oracle, long celebrated for providing one of the loudest and most raucous home-court advantages in the NBA. But while Pelicans coach Monty Williams might not have been surprised by it, he sure doesn't seem to have appreciated the din, according to ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh:
Speaking before the Pelicans' morning shootaround ahead of Monday's Game 2, Williams complimented the Warriors' home crowd but suggested that the volume has gotten excessive.
"I'm not so sure the decibel level is legal, and I'm serious," Williams said. "They've done studies on that. For the competition committee, there's got to be something to that. It does get a little out of hand. Their fans, I've talked about it for years, they have some of the best fans in the league."
Williams did not directly claim any foul play on the Warriors' part.
To be fair, Williams did seem to frame his concern as a compliment to the way the Warriors get their fans excited, according to the AP's Gonzalez:
"I've talked about it for years, they've got some of the best fans in the league here, and they show up early. The music before the game, they're playing old school music, and it's right above your locker room. And you're like, 'These people are crazy, man. This is pretty cool.' So I'm sure it has an effect, but after a few minutes it's just basketball."
It definitely seemed to have an effect in Game 1, as Pelicans All-Star Davis noted the roar of Oracle as a contributing factor in New Orleans' slow start during a 13-point first quarter: "My first playoff experience, it was pretty hectic. So much going on, it was so loud I couldn't hear my teammates, my coaches."
While Monty might not have insinuated the Dubs are doing anything shady, there have been other accusations of teams pumping in crowd noise to rattle the opposition.
TNT's Marv Albert claimed that the Boston Celtics had artificially pumped up the volume inside TD Garden during a nationally televised January 2013 loss to the New York Knicks. Washington Wizards play-by-play man Steve Buckhantz levied the same accusation at the Miami Heat back at the start of this season, claiming that the game operations staff at AmericanAirlines Arena had "gone to the canned crowd noise." Both the Celtics and Wizards denied doing so, but that doesn't mean fans won't continue to wonder and call B.S. on the noise in certain gyms ... especially when their favorite teams visit them during road trips.
There are rules against pumping in fake crowd noise in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons just ran afoul of them, with a league investigation into allegations of piped-in cheering at the Georgia Dome costing them a 2016 fifth-round pick, earning the organization a $350,000 fine and team president Rich McKay a suspension from the NFL's competition committee.
There doesn't seem to be any similar restrictions in the NBA's rulebook, though. The only item I can find that refers to volume or noise in any way notes that players are barred from "talking to the free throw shooter or taking in a loud disruptive manner during any free throw attempt." This ain't that, so, y'know, the Warriors seem to be in the clear. I guess Williams could always try calling the local police and registering a noise complaint. Let us know if that works out for you, Monty.
UPDATE (10:25 p.m. ET, 4/20/15): The NBA's constitution and bylaws afford the commissioner the right "to establish minimum standards for the conditions under which NBA basketball games and events are conducted, and to regulate the in-arena presentation of those games and events." As noted by Cinesport's Noah Coslov, the NBA has established game-presentation rules related to the decibel levels of public-address systems in arenas, but nothing specifically related to fan noise ... which makes sense, of course, because how would you govern that; moreover, why would you ever want to? There haven't been any reported complaints in the way of P.A.-related noise issues about Oracle Arena.
Now, you're not going to believe this, but Williams' questioning of the legality of the decibel level inside Oracle met with some derision. Detractors of note included Draymond Green's mother, Mary Babers-Green:
... and, of course, Oracle itself:
Whether piped-in or organic and user-generated, the noise at Oracle sure doesn't seem likely to get any less insane come tipoff of Monday night's Game 2. And since it's not like the Board of Governors is going to call an emergency meeting this afternoon to institute a new rule demanding customers keep it down to a dull roar, it appears all Williams did here was confirm to Golden State's rabid fanbase that their screaming, hollering, applauding and chanting does get in Warriors' opponents' heads.
With the Warriors looking at an opportunity to open up a 2-0 lead, it's a safe bet that the Oracle denizens will crank it up to 11 and make the Pelicans prove they can play well enough out of the gate to shut 'em up on their own. If they can't ... well, here's hoping Monty and company have some Excedrin handy.
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