Warriors know sloppy defense in Game 5 vs Cavs will get them burned

Warriors know sloppy defense in Game 5 vs Cavs will get them burned

OAKLAND -- When the Warriors take the floor Monday night for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, they’ll do so with the lessons of Game 4 still etched on their minds.

The most lasting lesson is that sloppy defense will get them burned.

“We didn't give any kind of resistance in that first -- I'll call it first three minutes, where they just got real comfortable on our miscommunication,” Stephen Curry said Sunday. “We got separated from bodies a little too much and let them toe up on the 3-point line.

“And in that building especially, if you allow them to get that three-point game going early, they feed off of that energy.”

The Cavaliers, spurred by the home crowd at Quicken Loans Arena, shot 52.9 percent from the field, becoming the first team this postseason to shoot above 48 percent against the Warriors.

The Warriors were especially punished by Cleveland’s shooting beyond the arc. The Cavs dropped a Finals record 24 3-pointers -- accounting for 72 of their 137 points.

“Of those 24, I would say probably 10 of them were just mental breakdowns and giving them open looks,” Curry said. “And they're obviously great 3-point shooters. If you give them open looks, they're capable of making it, and they can make them in flurries.”

Among the 16 teams that entered the playoffs, the Warriors rank No. 1 in field-goal percentage defense, at 42.3. Their 3-point field-goal percentage defense, 33.5, is tops among all teams that advanced past the second round.

Yet the Cavs, aggressive from the start, scoring a Finals-record 49 points in the first quarter, including seven of the 24 triples, shot 53.3 percent from deep.

“They didn't do it by luck,” Kevin Durant said.

“They can match the effort they gave,” Draymond Green said. “But if we raise our level of effort and intensity, they don't hit 24 3s. I definitely expect them to match that effort, but I expect ours to be a lot better.”

Part of that expectation may come from the change of venue. The Warriors have been more prone to slippage on the road than at Oracle Arena, where Game 5 will be played.

“I expect us to come out guns blazing,” Green said. “If you get punched in the face, you want to respond. We know what it takes to win a championship. We know what we have to do in order to win this game.”

If the Warriors know what will be required to succeed, it’s because they studied plenty of video over the weekend that illustrated their inattention to detail as well as Cleveland’s offensive tenacity and accuracy in Game 4.

Guards Kyrie Irving and JR Smith combined for 55 points, including making 12-of-21 from deep. Power forward Kevin Love had his best offensive game, scoring 23 points and draining 6-of-8 3-pointers.

“Some of it was their ball movement and their ability to break us down from the perimeter, and some of it was us just not being ready to play and not ready to rotate, not helping each other fully,” Klay Thompson said. “So give Cleveland credit for their offense. They were moving the ball really well and slicing us up.

“But on the other side of that, we kind of let them. Our intensity wasn't the same as it was in the first three games, so we'll get back to that tomorrow.”

The Cavs have improved, game by game, on offense. Desperate to avoid being swept, they were practically perfect in Game 4.

The Warriors, as they have all season, believe their defense is the key to their success. It feeds their transition offense while simultaneously frustrating opponents.

“It all starts on the ball,” coach Steve Kerr said. “If you get broken down at the point of attack, now you have to help and now the dominoes start falling and they're swinging the ball side to side, and they got shooters everywhere. So our on-ball defense has to be better, our pick-and-roll defense has to be better.

“We have to bring it. We got to go take this game and do it with efficiency and competitive defense and alertness and awareness for 48 minutes. We didn't have any of that in Game 4.”

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss


Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.

Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings


Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi sustained a sprained right ankle with 9:00 left in the second quarter of the Warriors-Kings game Friday night and did not return.

After dropping in a short hook shot with 9:04 left in the quarter, Casspi landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle and dropping to the floor clutching his lower leg. Down for a couple minutes, he eventually got up and limped into the locker room, accompanied by physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane.

Casspi played six minutes off the bench, producing 6 points, one assist and one rebound against his former team.

He joins Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Pat McCaw and Klay Thompson on the sideline.