Draymond inspires crowd, Warriors while demoralizing Blazers at same time

Draymond inspires crowd, Warriors while demoralizing Blazers at same time

Everyone involved in Game 1 of the Portland-Golden State playoff series got what they wanted Sunday. Everyone.

Of course, some got a little extra portion of what they wanted at the end, because that’s how playoffs work. In this case, the Warriors pulled away from the expectedly stubborn Blazers at the end, 121-109, because they still have the most cards in their hand, and can do with defense what offense alone cannot always accomplish.

See Green, Draymond James. And McGee, JaVale Lindy. And West, David Moorer. And Thompson, Klay Alexander. And . . . oh, hell, you get the point. They brought the whirlwind that usually shows up right after halftime while the customers are settling up their tabs, and despite the seven- or eight-minute delay, they got all the noise that their crowd could give them.

That would be the crowd that Klay Thompson addressed by marking his urgent mid-week plea (as in, he spoke audibly on the matter) that the customers who have grown accustomed to the absurdly good get loud on faith that more good will come.

To their credit, the crowd did that, but as is their wont now that the bar of stimulus has been raised to Andean heights, they waited until the Warriors changed their game with a Green-inspired defensive blitz that turned a no-limit-raise poker game into a standard evening out.

In other words, the Warriors did with end-game defense what C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard did offensively for Portland for three quarters. And though the two Blazers can be pleased with their 75 points (McCollum 40), they found out again what they learned last year.

That beating the Warriors takes just a smidge more than the best the Blazers have. And that Green, shot-blocking, smack-talking, bicep-flexing phenomenon that he is, can do more to energize a crowd almost jaded by the frequency of great shooting performances than maybe any other Warrior.

“Draymond was amazing,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Green manic 19-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist, five-block, 700-word trashtalk fest with Lillard and McCollum. “He made some tremendous defensive plays. He made threes. He rebounded the ball. He had nine assists. I mean, he played a game that I’m not sure anybody else in the league is capable of, honestly. Who else can do what Draymond just did tonight? He’s so unique and so important to us. He was phenomenal.”

Kevin Durant, whose standard of excellence rested with 32 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes, concurred with the way the audience got most jazzed – with a 15-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter in a game tied at 88 mostly due to McCollum and Lillard doing the work of five.

“Especially at home, the crowd feeds off of it, we feed off of it,” Durant said of the run that changed the game for good. “When we get out in transition, that's when we're best. And JaVale, and Draymond, and D. West, like Steph (Curry) said, we're grateful of protecting that rim, and being up on the pick-and-rolls, especially in the second half. We're going to need that for the rest of the series . . . It's good that we've got veteran guys who know how to play, but also are really good at communicating. So we're going to need everybody on the defensive end, like you said, on a string, and we'll be fine.”

That is the generally-held assumption, which is probably why the crowd tried intermittently to inspire itself early but didn’t really shift into sixth until Green, McGee, West, et. al., did it for them.

It is why, in the end, it is okay for this team not to need the crowd for inspiration, but to spur the crowd to do what crowds do best – cheer a desired result with extraordinary components.

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.