Warriors

Draymond key to any Kerr adjustment: 'Got to be more active'

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Draymond key to any Kerr adjustment: 'Got to be more active'

CLEVELAND -– In the wake of the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals reaping the benefits of a forced change in their starting lineup, the Warriors now must make an adjustment as the teams prepare for Game 4 Friday night.

As coach Steve Kerr explores his options, there is little doubt that any move he makes will impact forward Draymond Green.

None of the Warriors were more adversely affected than Green when Cleveland turned to Richard Jefferson to replace power forward Kevin Love, who is going through NBA concussion protocol.

Moving Jefferson in at small forward pushes LeBron James to power forward, pretty much eradicating the crucial advantage Green could exploit against Love. If Love is a Clydesdale, James is a thoroughbred. Which makes Green’s challenge exponentially more difficult.

“That's fine,” Green said Thursday, prior to practice at Quicken Loans Arena. “I think I've got to be more active on the offensive end and kind of wear him out more. I don't think I was that active or aggressive last night. So I'll be more aggressive and like my chances.”

[RELATED: Curry on pace for third worst finals by reigning MVP]

James poses challenges at both ends, and in Game 3 he was a decisive winner over Green –- and anybody else the Warriors threw at him. James totaled 32 points (14-of -26 shooting), 11 rebounds and six assists in a 120-90 Cavs win. Green countered with 8 points (2-of-8 shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists.

One glaring difference between Green vs. Love and Green vs. James is that Green found more ways to attack Love’s defense than he did that of James. Love’s lack of lateral quickness gave Green openings that were not there against James.

It’s the kind of space that would be available to Green if he were to go against, say, Cavs big man Tristan Thompson, who presents a problem only with his prolific offensive rebounding.

A change there, though, would mean giving Green more minutes at center, which would mean more bench time Andrew Bogut –- who likely would step aside so Kerr could insert Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup. That’s one way to give Green more space with which to operate while also having someone else, Iguodala, cope with James.

Kerr believes his team would trust any move he makes and roll with it.

“Our guys are all understanding that you go with whatever the best lineup us and, top to bottom, our team is professional and supportive of one another,” he said. “So it’s always just ‘Are we going to be better off matchup-wise, or are we going to be better off with a certain rotation that allows one guy to guard somebody specifically on the other team?’ We watch the film and we make that decision.”

[RELATED: Report: Love practices but won't be cleared to play Thursday]

When Kerr swapped Bogut for Iguodala after Game 3 of the 2015 Finals, the Warriors came out of a 2-1 hole to win three straight and take the series.

When Kerr swapped Harrison Barnes for Iguodala in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals 10 days ago, the Warriors prevailed to advance to The Finals for the second consecutive season.

The options are there, if Kerr so chooses, and he typically won’t provide even the slightest indication in advance. It may come down to whether he considers Game 3 a one-game deviation from the norm or a symptom of the Warriors struggling with Cleveland’s altered lineup.

“Usually, I would say what happens is teams adjust after struggles,” Kerr said. “Because if you get to the playoffs, you get deep in the playoffs, generally speaking you’ve played kind of a similar rotation, a similar style all year. If you make an adjustment before Game 1, the team’s looking at you like, ‘What are we doing? We’re pretty good.’

“So, usually, both teams kind of wait at least a couple games before they make any dramatic move. Then it sort of goes back and forth from there.”

No matter what change Kerr makes, if he makes one at all, Green will have to find a way to be more effective. No doubt guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson also have to be more productive – and there is no adjustment that changes their roles – but Green is this team’s fire starter.

His plan is to worry later about his matchup but to act now on his own behalf.

“Just be me, play more aggressive,” Green said. “Obviously, let the game come to me. But be way more aggressive and more accurate than I was (in Game 3).”

How much better will Warriors be in Game 3 as they seek redemption vs Rockets?

How much better will Warriors be in Game 3 as they seek redemption vs Rockets?

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson says the ball movement will improve. Draymond Green says the defense will be better. Steve Kerr says the Warriors will be sharper.

Those are the goals Sunday afternoon, when the defending champions face the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Tipoff at Oracle Arena is scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific.

The Warriors are coming off a disappointing performance in Game 2 that resulted in a 22-point defeat that allowed the Rockets to tie the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni and Kerr have spent the past three days talking up the need for defense and effort -- or “force” -- saying those factors will dictate the outcome. The Warriors had the edge in Game 1, but the Rockets had it in Game 2.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Thompson expects to get the bulk of the minutes against Harden, who through the first two games sought to manipulate the defense in search of a favorable matchup, usually targeting Stephen Curry. The Warriors say they’ve made a few tweaks to their defense, stressing the need to stay in front of the ball-handler. Thompson, when engaged, is good at this. He says he’s eager to “redeem” himself after the Game 2 loss.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries reported.

GAME OFFICIALS

Marc Davis (crew chief), Sean Corbin, Jason Phillips, Bill Spooner (alternate)

THE TALLY

Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106 at Houston Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105 at Houston

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing 116-108 on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

WARRIORS D: The Warriors were completely out of sorts on defense in Game 2, paving a path through which Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza combined to score 68 points. After three days reviewing the video and taking corrective steps, the Warriors should be appreciably better.

STEPH TOWN: Stephen Curry’s 3-ball has been stubborn about going in. Despite going 2-of-13 over the first two games, he says he’s fine. This much we know: Curry’s shooting numbers historically are better at home, where the crowd hangs on his every shot. He’ll fire early and maybe often, looking for his rhythm.

CP3 PLAYING HURT: After playing less than four minutes of the fourth quarter in Game 2, Chris Paul limped off the court with an ice bag strapped to his lower left leg. Whether it’s a calf, an Achilles, an ankle or a foot, the Rockets aren’t saying. Expect the Warriors to test Paul early to get a feel for his mobility.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5 p.m.
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6 p.m.
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m.
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)

Back with homecourt advantage, Warriors ready to rock with Roarale crowd against Rockets

Back with homecourt advantage, Warriors ready to rock with Roarale crowd against Rockets

OAKLAND -- Entering the postseason without the No. 1 overall seed for the first time under Steve Kerr, the Warriors claimed this new challenge, coming after bouts of tedium in the regular season, might be beneficial.

So they shrugged it off, saying that earning homecourt advantage throughout was, for this particular postseason, not the priority.

After splitting Games 1 and 2 against the Rockets in Houston, the Warriors now have it for the duration of their postseason run, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday. The defending champs can’t be dethroned unless a team wins at least one game at Oracle Arena.

Can the Warriors make that as difficult for opponents as it once was?

They seem to believe they can, and Kerr points to Curry as one of the reasons.

“Steph and Oracle, it’s a good combination,” he said.

Once that comment was relayed to him, Curry took it a step further.

The Warriors at Oracle are different,” he said.

The numbers, at least this season, serve to support Kerr more than Curry. His numbers, almost across the board, were slightly better at home. His scoring and assist averages were roughly the same, but all of his shooting percentages ticked upward while his turnover totals went down.

Oracle may be the remedy Curry needs. And if so, he may have to bring his teammates along.

After three seasons relative invincibility at home, the Warriors this season lost that sense of superiority. Following home records of 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over Kerr’s first three seasons, they were 29-12, exactly the same as on the road. Home losses to such sub-mediocre teams as Detroit and Charlotte and Sacramento (twice!) have a way of stripping away any and all edge.

Dropping home games to vastly inferior teams -- even if those teams are healthier -- are more the result of regular-season boredom than a sudden seismic shift. The playoffs are a different monster, and the Warriors know it.

The Warriors are 6-0 at home in these playoffs, with an average win margin of 13.3 points. They were 9-0 at home in the 2017 postseason, with an average margin of 16.9 points. Their 15-game win streak in home playoff games is a franchise record and ties them with the Bulls teams of the early 1990s for the NBA record.

“We have better pace at home,” Kerr said. “We just do. I don’t know why. It seems to be a universal dynamic in basketball. The home team generally gets a little more edge, a little more energy from the crowd and plays a little faster. And the way we play, that seems to be accentuated.”

Those are among the reasons the Warriors are solid favorites for Game 3. They want to make amends for the unbecoming effort displayed in Game 2, but the postseason atmosphere at Oracle is special.

“The crowd helps a lot, helps a ton,” Klay Thompson said.

“We all love playing in front of our home crowd,” Curry said. “If we had a choice of where you want to play, we’d choose Oracle every day of the week.

“We’ve always talked about... even when we start a series out at home, you start off well and go on the road and maybe split. When you come home for that Game 5, it’s not just showing up at home that means you’re going to walk into a win. You’ve got to have the right execution and the right mindset going in to allow the crowd to be into it, to allow the fireworks to start.”

The Warriors, it could be said, owe the Rockets one. It was Houston that came into Oracle on opening night, roughly seven months ago, and spoiled the evening on which the Warriors received their championship rings.

The Rockets not only won but did so in perhaps the most impressive way possible, falling behind by 13 entering the fourth quarter and then chasing down the Warriors. That kind of meltdown doesn’t happen to team that owns its house.

If the Warriors still own their house, it’ll become apparent in Game 3. They didn’t seek homecourt advantage, but now they have it. As much as they earned it, it’s only as valuable as they make it.

 

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5 p.m.
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6 p.m.
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m.
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)