Warriors

After crushing Spurs in Game 1, Warriors fighting human nature going into Game 2

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USATSI

After crushing Spurs in Game 1, Warriors fighting human nature going into Game 2

OAKLAND -- Coasting to victory in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Spurs has put every member of the Warriors on alert for their most dangerous opponent in Game 2 on Monday night.

It’s not the Spurs.

It’s human nature.

“It’s definitely human nature,” Draymond Green said Monday after shootaround.

“It’s human nature to relax when you blow a team out in the first game,” Klay Thompson said Sunday. “But we have to do the exact opposite because the Spurs one of the best teams at making adjustments.”

The Warriors are more concerned, justifiably, with dismissing the vanity that can seep into the mind, stealing steal some of the urgency, after opening a series in such dominating fashion.

“When we’re playing, it’s about us,” Green said. “It’s about what we do. I don’t really focus on what other teams do or what they’re going to do as far as their aggressiveness or the force they play with.

“If we come out and play with the force that we’re capable of playing with, we’ll be just fine.”

Though the Warriors never trailed Saturday in Game 1, leading by as much as 28 points in a 113-92 victory, they expect to see a more focused San Antonio team Monday night at Oracle Arena.

“I think they will be more aggressive,” Green said. “In the last game, we came out and we set the tempo for the game and brought force to the game.

“Whether they come out aggressive or not, if we come out with that same force that we came out with in Game 1, I don’t think it matters.”

Since Steve Kerr took over as coach in 2014-15, the Warriors are 10-2 in Game 2.

Coming Soon: The Steph Curry Effect

Coming Soon: The Steph Curry Effect

OAKLAND -- Postseason basketball is about to get considerably easier for Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant and, well, the rest of the Warriors.

Stephen Curry, sidelined for the past five weeks with a knee injury, could rejoin the Warriors as soon as Saturday for Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinal series against the New Orleans Pelicans.

After going through his first controlled scrimmage since mid-March on Thursday, Curry was upgraded to questionable.

“He did everything and looked good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Curry’s return is significant largely for his impact on offense, as his mere presence puts immeasurable pressure on opposing defenses. Nobody spreads the floor quite like he does.

Though he wasn’t needed to put away the Spurs in the first round, Curry might be essential against a white-hot New Orleans team that rolled up points (114.5 per game, 114.7 offensive rating) while containing guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in their first-round sweep of the Trail Blazers.

As good as Lillard and McCollum are, Curry and Thompson would pose an altogether deeper set of problems. Thompson’s length (he’s 6-foot-7) and strength will be tough to the Pelicans to handle. With Curry, the challenge is defending his ability to shoot from deep as well as he penetrates.

The Warriors posted an astonishing 120.4 offensive rating in the 51 games that Curry played in the regular season. Without him, they dropped to just above 106. Those statistics illustrate the Curry Effect.

As Durant has said on multiple occasions: “Steph is the system” with the Warriors. On a team for which any one of three players can ring up 30 or more points in a game, Curry is the centerpiece.

With him, they can take the floor knowing they can outscore just about any team. Without him, they know they that would be an exceedingly tall task.

“We were excited,” Thompson said of seeing Curry on the practice court. “I know he is very eager to play. He’s a competitor, so I know that sitting down kills him. We can‘t wait for him to get back, whenever that is.”

It may be Saturday.

“What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day and put him through another practice (Friday),” Kerr said. “He needs to string together a few good days, but it was very positive today.”

Curry is ready. He closed his practice session, supervised by assistant coach Bruce “Q” Fraser, by shouting, “We back, Q! We back.” The two then leapt into the air, bumping chests and giggling.

Statistical comparison between the Warriors and Pelicans since Cousins' injury

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AP

Statistical comparison between the Warriors and Pelicans since Cousins' injury

On Jan. 26, the Pelicans lost DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending injury.

Without Cousins, they went 21-13 down the stretch and finished with the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.

Over that same time period, the Warriors won 19 of their final 33 games (including only seven of their last 17) as they dealt with an onslaught of injuries to their stars as well as their bench.

These stats below (from Jan. 27 through the end of the regular season) paint a picture of how Golden State and New Orleans differed, leading up to their second round matchup starting Saturday night:

OFFENSE:

Assists per game:

Pelicans T-3rd: 27.1 assists
Warriors 5th: 27.1 assists

Rebounds per game:

Pelicans 5th: 46.1 rebounds
Warriors 24th: 42.5 rebounds

Field goal percentage:

Warriors 1st: 49.1%
Pelicans 8th: 48%

3-point percentage:

Warriors 5th: 38.2%
Pelicans 20th: 35.3%

Points per game:

Pelicans 3rd: 112.6 ppg
Warriors 12th: 109.5 ppg

Turnovers per game:

Pelicans 16th: 13.8
Warriors 25th: 15.1

DEFENSE:

Opponent field goal percentage:

Pelicans 5th: 44.6%
Warriors 11th: 45.8%

Opponent 3-point percentage:

Pelicans 5th: 34.5%
Warriors 11th: 35.5%

Defensive Rating:

Pelicans 5th: 103.7
Warriors 12th: 105.6

Blocks per game:

Pelicans 1st: 7.0 blocks
Warriors 2nd: 6.8 blocks