Warriors

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.”

Breaking down Pelicans vs Warriors Western Conference Semifinals

Breaking down Pelicans vs Warriors Western Conference Semifinals

SAN ANTONIO -- By eliminating the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, the No. 2 seed Warriors advanced to the Western Conference Semifinal round, where they will face New Orleans, with Game 1 set for Saturday at a time to be determined.

The No. 6 seed Pelicans advanced last Saturday with a four-game sweep of the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.

Here is a look at recent history as well as matchups -- as best we can determine, considering many will involve cross-matching -- between the Warriors and Pelicans:

POINT GUARD

Andre Iguodala vs. Rajon Rondo: It’s possible but not likely that Stephen Curry will be available for Game 1, which means Warriors coach Steve Kerr should stay with Andre Iguodala, whose defense and intellect were on display against the Spurs. Rondo clearly is the leader of the Pelicans and is playing at a very high level. He averaged 13.3 assists per game against Portland and scored well enough (11.3 ppg, 48.7 percent FG) to keep defenses honest.

EDGE: Even.

SHOOTING GUARD

Klay Thompson vs. Jrue Holiday: This matchup, featuring the best two-way guards in the league, should be highly entertaining. With the exception of Game 4, Thompson was fabulous against the Spurs, averaging 22.6 ppg on 52.9-percent shooting, including 51.6 percent beyond the arc. Holiday also was superb, averaging 27.8 ppg on 56.8-percent shooting while shutting down Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Thompson is four-time All-Star and Holiday, who hasn’t been an All-Star since 2013, is reminding everyone of his considerable skills.

EDGE: Even.

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant vs. E’Twaun Moore: Durant is a consensus top-5 player and, at 6-foot-11, presents a matchup headache for any defender. He can also expect to at times match up with Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Durant led the Warriors in scoring against the Spurs (28.2 ppg, 48 percent FG but only 25 percent from deep) and will be target No. 1 for the New Orleans defense. Put another way, Moore, will spend less time on Durant than a couple of his teammates.

EDGE: Significant edge to Durant.

POWER FORWARD

Draymond Green vs. Nikola Mirotic: Another juicy matchup, featuring the splendid defensive gifts of Green against the brilliant shooting of Mirotic. Though Green also will get turns against absurdly good Pelicans center Anthony Davis, he is sure to see plenty of Mirotic, who against Portland averaged 19.3 ppg, shooting 46.2 from deep and 57.1 overall. In either case, Green, who at times single-handedly thwarted San Antonio’s offense, will have to spend more time playing on-ball defense.

EDGE: Slight edge to Green

CENTER

Entire Warriors army vs. Anthony Davis: The matchup description is not much of a stretch. Davis, who is every bit to matchup headache that Durant is. Davis’ 33 ppg in the first round leads all playoff scorers, is going to see no fewer than four different defenders -- Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee, Durant and Green -- over the course of this series. Anyone who defends the 6-10 star is going to need both skill and luck. On the other end, Davis will patrol the paint in an effort to protect the rim. He leads all playoff performers in blocks (2.8 bpg).

EDGE: Significant edge to Davis

SEASON SERIES

The Warriors and Pelicans met four times, with the Warriors winning three times:

Nov. 20 at New Orleans: Warriors 128, Pelicans 120 Nov. 25 at Oakland: Warriors 110, Pelicans 95 Dec. 4 at New Orleans: Warriors 125, Pelicans 115 April 7 at Oakland: Pelicans 126, Warriors 120

Draymond calmly claps back at Webber, 'my (championship) jewelry fit well'

Draymond calmly claps back at Webber, 'my (championship) jewelry fit well'

OAKLAND -- Draymond Green concedes he doesn’t generally look to score, that he’d rather set up his teammates to provide that for the Warriors.

So he was only mildly annoyed by comments made by TNT analyst Chris Webber during the telecast of Game 5 between the Warriors and Spurs on Tuesday night.

Webber said that if Green were on another team and was expected to score that “he may not be in the starting lineup.”

Naturally, Green was fully loaded for a ready response.

“I don't have a scorer's mentality, especially for the team that I play on,” Green began after a 99-91 victory. “If I did have a scorer's mentality, it would throw all this off and it wouldn't work out.

“You know, there are times in the game where I probably need to score more, but it's hard to turn a scorer's mentality on and off. I've had that once before in my life. You don't just click that on or off. Nonetheless, I do know when I need to be more aggressive and that helps my team out.”

Green was just warming up, saving his best stuff for punctuation.

“But I don't care,” he continued. “I've done some great things in this league. I've been to All-Star (games) twice averaging like 11 points, 10 points or something like that. Look, you know, I don't need to score.

“However, I don't think (Webber) can find many GMs are coaches that wouldn't say I wouldn't start on their team, and you know, my -- I'm fine without scoring the ball. I think I've created a new lane for guys in this league to where you don't have to score 20 points to be an All-Star or be a starter in this league and it is what it is.

“That's fine and my (championship) jewelry fit well. So I'm doing really pretty good. You know, much love to C-Webb, though, from Michigan, State of Michigan, you know, we good.”

There is good reason to believe there is at least a degree of friendly-unfriendly rivalry at work. Webber grew up in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan. Green grew up in Saginaw and, and 15 years later, attended Michigan State University.

For the record, Green averaged 11.4 points, a team-best 11.2 rebounds and a team-best 8.0 assists in the five-game series with San Antonio.

Green has earned two championship rings with the Warriors, who have reached three consecutive NBA Finals with him at power forward.

Webber spent his rookie season (1993-94) with the Warriors, and was named Rookie of the Year. Though the Warriors were swept by Phoenix in the first round that season, he eventually appeared in 80 playoff games -- 53 as a member of the Sacramento Kings -- but never reached the NBA Finals.