Monday, 21 May, 2018

Warriors cruise past Spurs in opener

Golden State Warriors USA TODAY Sports
Lucia Summers | 15 April, 2018, 17:57

It is generally accepted that the Warriors will perspire some, feel a degree of burn in their lungs, receive an urgency slap in the face and get pushed toward the edge of their defending championship throne once they play a team from Texas.

The Golden State Warriors opened their first-round playoff matchup against the Spurs with an interesting starting lineup, which included JaVale McGee starting for the defending National Basketball Association champs.

Klay Thompson led all scorers with 27 on 11-13 shooting, including 5-6 from beyond the arc.

"We know what we're capable of", Green explained. "We know what it takes this time a year to win", Green said. In 48 minutes, the Warriors re-established a dominance that they spent the better part of seven months avoiding.

A San Antonio team built on muddying up the pace and grinding out wins had little answer for Golden State's switch-heavy system.

At long last, the NBA Playoffs are here.

The Warriors, playing without leading man Steph Curry, who isn't expected to play this series due to a sprained MCL, found their playoff gear and put their end-of-season struggles behind them with big games from Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. Durant blended a mix of efficiency (9 of 17) and passing (seven assists) along with eight rebounds.

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Curry is beyond critical to what the Warriors do.

"They had more grunt, more physicality in the first quarter, and we looked like deer in the headlights", Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said during his postgame press conference. When they revealed the lineup, it contained surprises: JaVale McGee was the starting center, and Andre Iguodala was the starting point guard, along with the usual starters - Durant, Thompson and Green.

Golden State was up double digits by the end of the first quarter. McGee finished with 15 points, four rebounds, two blocks and steal while making things hard for Aldridge.

"He's on the court doing some stuff", Kerr said. He's got obviously a lot of length and shot-blocking ability and mobility. "I like his speed". Despite Houston's success this season, Golden State is still the team to beat.

By opening the postseason with renewed fervor on both sides of the ball, Golden State began to hush anyone who doubted whether an erratic regular season was the result of more than a lack of motivation. While the surface-level view would indicate some issues for the Warriors (only the Miami Heat held the Warriors to a lower scoring average across their games this season), a deeper look shows some mitigating circumstances that make the Spurs appear more threatening than they probably will be in this series. And to get a win here, we got to overachieve.

The absence of each team's arguably best offensive weapon for likely the entire series applies additional pressure onto other players. "Last few games, we cared". "We hobbled to the playoffs but we know how good we are and what it takes in the post season to win".

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