Warriors

Containing Rockets isn't complicated for Warriors as long as they stay true to their word

Containing Rockets isn't complicated for Warriors as long as they stay true to their word

HOUSTON -- It must have felt tremendous for the Warriors to see the Houston Rockets trudging off the floor, confidence fractured, after the unceremonious demolition of the structure they spent so much time and energy constructing.

It had to be gratifying for the defending champs to hear Houston coaches and players ransacking their minds in a search for answers they’ll never find after being thoroughly outplayed in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

But with Game 2 looming Wednesday night, the Warriors must forget their 119-106 victory in Game 1 on Monday as quickly as they forgot their 58-win regular season.

“We’ve turned the page,” Stephen Curry said Tuesday after practice.

The only relevance of Game 1 for the Warriors is that gave them a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. Nothing more.

For the Rockets, though, Game 1 was profoundly significant.

They spent a full year building their roster and adjusting their mindset, aiming for Game 1 against the Warriors. They went out and earned it. And on a night when the Warriors were 80 percent of their best selves, they lost it.

Moreover, Houston was exposed for what it is, a talented scoring unit with cracks in the defense and an obstinate offensive system that could be its doom in this series.

“It’s not like, in the playoffs, you can just change who you are,” coach Steve Kerr said. “You’ve got to be who you are and you’ve got to play the way you play -- but you’ve got to do that better. That’s what everyone does. I anticipate we’ll see a lot of the same stuff Houston has been doing all year, but with more pace and more force.”

Houston’s 112.2 offensive rating in the regular season was good enough for second place, just behind the Warriors, who were at 112.3. The Rockets lead all playoff teams with 110.3 rating.

They achieved that status by relying mostly on the minds and skills of James Harden, the presumptive MVP, and veteran floor leader Chris Paul.

“They’re going to continue to James and CP and tell them to create for everybody else as well,” Kevin Durant said. “They’re going to try to move faster and play with pace. We’ve got to be prepared for anything.”

The Warriors realize that teams don’t get to the conference finals and junk the schemes that put them there.

"We do know the ball is going to be in James’ and Chris’ hands a lot because that’s what they’re really good at,” Curry said. “That’s what they do, and they’ve been really successful at it.

“At this stage of the season, you’ve established an identity. That’s true for us. It’s true for them. So it’s just a matter of who can execute better. That’s what it comes down to win a playoff series.”

The Rockets typically begin a possession with either Harden or Paul hunting for an isolation mismatch, achieved through screen-and-roll action. It’s largely one-dimensional. It’s not easy to defend, but it is simple to defend. It also allows defenses to rest when Harden or Paul dribbles down the clock.

Even as that pounding-the-rock approach resulted in three shot-clock violation turnovers in Game 1, dramatic change would be a sign of panic.

"It's like, 'Oh my gosh, they iso! That's all they do.' No, it isn't. That’s what we do best," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters Tuesday. "We scored like 60 percent of the time on it. It's like, no, really? Like, 'Oh, they don't pass. Everybody stands.' Really? Have you watched us for 82 games?

"That's what we do. We are who we are, and we're pretty good at it. And we can't get off who we are. Embrace it. Just be better at who we are and don't worry about if somebody else solves the puzzle a different way."

The Warriors seem to have solved the Houston puzzle. They seized homecourt advantage in Game 1 and a win in Game 2 will give them control of the series.

The Rockets have nowhere to turn, making it incredibly difficult to tie the series on Wednesday -- as long as the Warriors are true to their word and have filed away the results of Game 1.

Steph Curry unveils story behind why the Wolves didn't draft him: 'I hope it's true because that's hilarious'

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AP

Steph Curry unveils story behind why the Wolves didn't draft him: 'I hope it's true because that's hilarious'

With the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select... Ricky Rubio.

With the sixth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select... Jonny Flynn.

With the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select... Stephen Curry.

And the rest is history.

As you all know, the man in charge of those selections -- David Kahn -- was fired in 2013 and no longer works in the NBA.

"My guy David Kahn. I don't know where he's at right now," Curry said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. "I don't know if that ever came out -- there's a story. Everybody knows how much I love golf -- play it in my spare time and what not.

"I think the word on the street was that he didn't draft me because in Minnesota it's cold and I wouldn't be able to play as much golf so I would have been miserable."

A shocked Simmons asked Curry: "Is that true?"

"I hope it's true because that's hilarious (laughter)," Curry said. "That's hilarious."

To which Simmons responded: "It was idiotic in the moment. I did a draft diary. I was going nuts. Because if you're gonna take two point guards, how are you not one of the two? And then if you're gonna go all-in on Rubio and you don't even know if he's gonna come over..."

Rubio didn't leave Spain for the NBA until the 2011-12 season, and a hip injury unfortunately ended Flynn's career after just two plus seasons.

There's no way we will ever find out if that golf story is true, but just like Steph... we certainly hope it is.

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

Steph Curry shares one of his favorite Draymond Green stories: 'Livingston was posting me up...'

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AP

Steph Curry shares one of his favorite Draymond Green stories: 'Livingston was posting me up...'

Steph Curry and Draymond Green have a special relationship. 

They have been teammates since the 2012-13 season and have been through a lot together.

[REWIND: That time Draymond & Curry bonded over BBQ, beer when trailing Grizzlies in playoffs]

Curry recently was a guest on The Bill Simmons Podcast, and obviously Draymond was a topic of conversation:

Simmons: "What’s your favorite Draymond story? What’s the one story that captures what it’s like to be on the same team as Draymond Green? Other than the game where he almost got thrown out for trash-talking the Clippers when he wasn’t even in uniform." (laughter)

Curry: "I remember that game. Probably the times him and Coach Kerr get into it. And you’re inside of practice and you don’t know whose side to take. Just like, 'I guess they’re both right, but they’re both wrong.'"

Simmons: "What do they argue about? Give me an example."

Curry: "They argue about a play call or maybe something Coach Kerr has been thinking about for a couple games ... and he's like 'Don’t over-coach. We know what we doing.' And coach is like, 'Well, I know you know what you’re doing, but let me just help you along as I’m supposed to do. That’s what my job is to do -- to point out things that could be important for us to win a championship.' 

"But they have a real -- the respect level between those two is at an all-time high, but they have their moments and it’s just amazing entertainment to watch in practice. Coach’s first year, we were doing some five-on-five drill, and Draymond loves talking trash to the whole team -- doesn’t matter if it’s me. Shaun Livingston was posting me up on the block and I had no chance to try to contest his shot. And he did a little turnaround, a Shaun Livingston vintage turnaround over the top of me.

"And Draymond was like, 'He’s too small, Dot! He’s too small, Dot! Baby food!' Yelling all that stuff during the middle of practice, and he’s on my team (laughter). I’m like, 'Bro, come on.' That little stuff happens, but then when him and Coach Kerr get into it, the whole practice stops because they’re two important voices when it comes to how practice is flowing.

"So, we let them kind of deal with their issue and we keep it moving. At then at the end of practice, it’s just like nothing happened. And that’s the best part."

Don't ever change, Draymond. Don't ever change.

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