Warriors

Warriors brief: Klay burns Spurs' game plan; tale of two halves for Draymond

Warriors brief: Klay burns Spurs' game plan; tale of two halves for Draymond

The playoffs have finally begun and the Warriors went back to their old winning ways.

Let's take a look back at a few notes from Game 1 as we look ahead to Game 2 tonight.

Work hard, Klay hard

What should scare the Spurs most about their Game 1 loss is that they actually gave a reasonable defensive effort guarding Klay Thompson. It was clear the Spurs game plan out the gate was to restrict Klay’s constant movement and deny him touches which proved to be rather effective, especially early on.

They held Klay to one field goal attempt in the first quarter with a rotation of Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray and Manu Ginboli among others, face guarding, holding, grabbing and playing defense on top of him. In the regular season, Klay averaged a usage rate of 23.7 percent. In Game 1 on Saturday, the Spurs held Klay to a usage rate of 18.6 percent, and that was mostly because the ball was hardly in Klay’s hands.

The problem though -- in his limited touches, Klay made the most of them. Five of Klay’s 11 field goal attempts were tightly contested, with Klay finishing four of them. The other seven shots were either open or wide open (he made six), the result of superior ball movement, the Warriors being in transition, or Spurs mistakes.

As Manu Ginobli said after the game: "We made a few mistakes that helped him to get off, but there are sometimes that he’s shooting some ridiculous shots." Most players in the NBA let a defense off the hook when they make only a "few mistakes." Klay didn’t. And that should scare the Spurs.

***

The Warriors have to be very pleased to see Klay shooting with a confident stroke in the first game of the playoffs. It was just last season that he struggled with his shot through most of their 17 game playoff run to win the championship. On Saturday, Klay went 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Last season, Klay did not hit his fifth 3-pointer until the third game of the playoffs.

In his first 13 games of the playoffs last year, Klay shot 37 percent from the field and 34 percent from deep. To his credit however, in Games 2-5 of the Finals Klay shot 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range. It has only been one game so far, but it has to be a confidence booster to Klay and the Warriors.

***

Last season Klay averaged 15 points per game and attempted only 14 field goals per game in the 17 games on the road to the championship. It was just one season removed from a stellar postseason performance from Klay, in which he scored over 24 points per game on an average of 19 shots, over a 24-game run that ended with a Cavaliers celebration.

The big difference between the two seasons: Kevin Durant. Being the third scoring option obviously contributed to lower scoring and shots, but with Steph Curry out for the beginning of the playoffs this season, the Warriors will look to Klay to revert back to his 2016 playoffs form.

Game 1 half full 

It was a tale of two halves for Draymond in the first game of the series. In nearly 19 first half minutes on Saturday, Draymond went 3 for 9 from the field including missing his three attempts from long range. His first half also included two assists against three turnovers, which was the result of some ill-advised passes and what looked like some potential playoff jitters.

The second half was a much different story, as Draymond went 2-for-3 from distance, while contributing nine assists without a turnover. Look for Draymond to build on his second half performance in Game 2.

***

There was a lot of talk before the series of a potential Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge duel, however Game 1 did not contribute to the conversation. Draymond hardly guarded Aldridge throughout the game, instead letting JaVale McGee, David West and Kevon Looney take most of the duties.

Draymond played his free safety type role on defense, constantly switching and helping, staying engaged and involved guarding nearly every player on the court. If Aldridge were to go off and be more effective in the beginning of Game 2, look for Draymond to eventually be the primary defender on him.

Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter: @GrantLiffmann

Bob Myers: 'It's conceivable' that Steph Curry plays in Game 1 vs Pelicans

Bob Myers: 'It's conceivable' that Steph Curry plays in Game 1 vs Pelicans

Bob Myers is on the mend.

The Warriors' general manager underwent hip surgery on Tuesday.

But you aren't reading this because you are looking for an update on Myers' health.

[PODCAST: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: Pelicans series preview -- will Looney start at center?]

You want to know if it's possible for Steph Curry to be in uniform on Saturday night against New Orleans.

"It's conceivable," Myers said on 95.7 The Game on Wednesday. "He's gonna try and practice ... if he can get in tomorrow's practice and Friday and doesn't have any setbacks and feels physically ready, then there's a chance he can go.

"But if there's any notion of him having any issues in any area, he wouldn't go on Saturday. But the good news is, if he's practicing -- which is the plan -- that means you're pretty close...

"So... conceivable -- I don't want to put a percentage on it because I don't know -- but I'm not saying inconceivable ... we'll know more pretty soon here."

Curry sustained a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee on Friday, March 23.

Game 1 vs New Orleans will be played five weeks and one day from the original injury.

The Warriors practice on Thursday at 12pm PT, so be sure to check back for an update on Curry when Steve Kerr speaks to the media...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

In supporting Kaepernick, it's the Warriors and the world on one side, NFL on the other

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AP

In supporting Kaepernick, it's the Warriors and the world on one side, NFL on the other

OAKLAND -- Colin Kaepernick’s popularity is rising again, and not because he’s abandoned his cause. He remains committed to the perpetual struggle for social justice, but now supporters worldwide are joining those in the Bay Area, including members of the NBA champion Warriors.

The former 49ers quarterback likely added a few more allies Wednesday, after a New York Times story detailed the agenda and events of a “confidential” meeting last October between NFL owners and players. The league’s exclusion of Kaepernick was among the topics.

“If he was on a roster right now, all this negativeness and divisiveness could be turned into a positive,” Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long said at the meeting, according to audio recording acquired by the Times.

Long, it seems, may be onto something the NFL does not acknowledge. Not yet.

Six months after that meeting in New York, Kaepernick, whose efforts to highlight social injustice have made him an outcast in the NFL, has yet to receive a job offer from a team. What he does have, as of last weekend, is the kind of global recognition that would shame the NFL if it weren’t so utterly shameless.

Amnesty International, a global organization fighting to end human rights abuse, named Kaepernick its 2018 Ambassador of Conscience, putting him in the august company of, among others, such noted activists and humanitarians as the band U2, singers Alicia Keys and Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte and the late Nelson Mandela.

The upshot: Kaepernick is good for the planet but somehow bad for the NFL.

“It still shows there is some good in the world,” Warriors star Kevin Durant told NBC Sports Bay Area. “We might be in a bad place in the United States, but around the world there’s still some good.”

“Colin doesn’t do it for the awards, doesn’t do it for the accolades. I think he’s really doing it for the people that don’t have a voice and the people who are fighting for change. I applaud him. And I’ll continue to support him, just like everybody else on our team and a lot of guys in professional sports.”

Durant is a member of the new wave of athlete/activists willing to speak out beyond the scope of their sport. He, like teammate Stephen Curry and fellow NBA star LeBron James, has been openly critical of President Donald Trump.

Yet all three remain as popular as ever. Curry sells more NBA merchandise than anyone, with James and Durant running second and third.

Durant was named this week one of 10 nominees for the NBA Cares Community Assist award. This comes less than a week after he was named to Time Magazine’s Top 100 list, an honor bestowed upon those making an impact on the world. Curry, who politely stated his refusal to accept an invitation from the Trump White House, was named to the same list in 2016.

And now here comes Kaepernick, adding another honor to a growing list that includes GQ magazine’s 2017 Citizen of the Year, Sports Illustrated’s 2017 Muhammad Ali Legacy award winner, as well as the winner of the ACLU’s Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate award last December.

“It’s awesome,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Amnesty International honor. “The first thing that I think of, when you look back at the civil rights movement, Muhammad Ali was hated in much of this country. He was considered a traitor. He was supposed to go to jail.

“When I think of Kaepernick, I think of Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, athletes were leaders in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. What they were doing was very unpopular and they were vilified by a good section of the country.

“So nothing’s changed.”

True, but for how long? It is becoming apparent is that activism isn’t as unfashionable as the NFL believes. The league, as indicated in the Times story, is caught between conservative elements of its fan base and the progressive folk standing behind those, like Kaepernick, willing to nudge society toward justice and equal rights.

The NFL thus far has, even as its attendance and TV ratings slide, consistently sides with the former.

“They’re looking unkind and unenlightened at the moment,” Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams said.

Which also was the case in the 1960s, when Ali faced withering criticism and malicious prosecution for sticking to his religious principles, and when Tommie Smith and John Carlos were stripped of their medals and banished from the Olympic Village in Mexico City for raising gloved fists as a peaceful response to racism.

Ali left this earth a hero. Smith and Carlos have come to represent courage and a commitment to humanity. Here’s Kaepernick representing those ideals in real time.

“A lot of people are on the wrong side of history,” Warriors forward David West said. “And it’s up to us to make sure nobody forgets it.”

Voices are rising in that regard. More and more people are standing on principle, from teenagers seeking reasonable gun laws to the Kaepernicks and the Eric Reids, who jeopardize their employment in pursuit of a greater America.

“I’m glad that Kaepernick is being recognized,” Kerr said. “It’s a good reminder that when you’re on the side of human rights, you’re going to end up on the right side of history. Years from now, Kaepernick will be much more respected and celebrated.”

The NFL Draft begins Thursday. Quarterbacks with no professional resume will be selected and granted the privilege of leading a team. They have faced a battery of questions from league officials seeking to peek inside. Some surely have been asked about their beliefs related to race, religion and human rights.

It’s not a stretch to assume some have been asked, directly, for their opinion of Kaepernick.

Meanwhile, the man himself stands outside the league, staring at fields that belong to a league in which he is not welcome. His next chance may never come. He may have to settle for having his own personal train, boarded by defenders and advocates, getting more crowded by the hour.

How does the NFL not see that Kaepernick is widely admired by society beyond the end zones? That he is accepted within by the more socially advanced world of the NBA and, by extension, its fans? Plenty in the NFL, as Long implied in that covert meeting, also see his cause as compassionate and necessary.

“Hopefully he gets a chance to do what he loves, which is play football,” Durant said. “But if he doesn’t, that’s another story that’s sad in itself. He’s doing what’s right and doing something that he believes in. It’s a truly noble act.”