Warriors

Film review: 'Red, red, red, red, red! -- guarding Klay Thompson would be a nightmare

klayforbesbrynsad.jpg
AP

Film review: 'Red, red, red, red, red! -- guarding Klay Thompson would be a nightmare

Bryn Forbes' face in the photo above says it all.

It would not be fun to get the Klay Thompson assignment.

The guy never stops moving. On multiple occasions this season, Steve Kerr has referred to the shooting guard as a "machine."

Klay is practically indefatigable. 

Let's go through a series of clips from Game 2 against the Spurs, highlighting why guarding the four-time All-Star would be a nightmare.

1) Klay hits a baseline jumper to make it 20-19 Spurs. Pay attention to how Klay immediately sprints to the corner once he passes the ball to Shaun Livingston. Manu Ginobili stops moving for a second, and it costs him.

2) Klay doesn't even get a shot here, but he struck fear in the Spurs defense. Listen to Danny Green -- who lost contact with Klay -- yell out "Red, red, red, red, red, red!" to let Forbes know that he needs help.

3) Does anybody have a quicker release? Klay drills this 3-pointer off a simple pindown screen. It prompts the following commentary:

-Bob Fitzgerald: "Klay Thompson, barely in his hands, and right in the bucket."
-Jim Barnett: "What focus that takes -- everybody is scrambling, people are almost falling into him underneath his legs -- and he still knocks it down."

4) Patty Mills starts on him, but Klay breaks free. He recognizes that LaMarcus Aldridge is guarding him (for a split second Aldridge tries to switch on to a nearby Kevin Durant), and pops out to the opposite wing. Aldridge has no chance to stay in front of Klay, who drives and finishes off the glass with his left hand.

5) This one might be my favorite, and Klay isn't the one who scores. It starts with Klay and Quinn Cook working on a dance routine underneath the basket, and ends with Klay catching on the wing, driving on Green and dropping a dime to Draymond for the layup (In addition to scoring 31 points, Klay dished out five assists).

6) A fadeaway baseline jumper with multiple guys contesting? Sure. Why not (there's nothing Mills can do to stop this).

"He's smarter than he's ever been," Steve Kerr said of Klay after practice on Sunday. "He's right in his prime physically and mentally."

The scary part is that he's only 28 years old.

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

Warriors in for a real fight through rest of Conference Finals

Warriors in for a real fight through rest of Conference Finals

OAKLAND -- This Western Conference Finals was never going to be a stroll through a warm breeze. The Warriors, generally superior, have too many blemishes. The Rockets have too much firepower and a memory that surely can recall last Oct. 17.

After winning two of the first three games, the Warriors looked ready to deliver a knockdown in Game 4 Tuesday night. They actually registered two, one in the first quarter and another, seemingly more devastating, in the third.

The Rockets got up each time. They came back with a vengeance, putting sharper teeth in their defense and more gusto in their offense and staying with it until they hung a 95-92 loss on the Warriors to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

“This game was sort of trench warfare,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was just everybody grinding it out.”

The Warriors, for the first time, saw the improved Houston defense that was so heralded at the start of the playoffs. It’s not that they didn’t get open looks. They did. But they were open only after absorbing some physical punishment, and they weren’t open very long.

“They fought and scrambled every play,” Kerr said. “Their half-court defense is pretty good,” conceded Draymond Green.

The Warriors were limited to eight fast-break points. They never could sustain any flow. Stephen Curry was 10-of-26, Kevin Durant 9-of-24 and Klay Thompson 4-of-13. It’s exceedingly difficult to win when your best scorers combine to shoot 36.5 percent from the field and your offense gives away 20 points off turnovers.

The Warriors built two 12-point leads in the first quarter, the Rockets wiped them out in the second to take a 53-46 lead into halftime. When the Warriors, behind scorching 17-point third quarter by Curry, led by 10 (80-70) at the end of three, the Rockets came for blood in the fourth.

“You look at how the game went, we were in pretty good shape for 44 minutes with a chance to win and take really control of the series,” Curry said. “But it didn't happen.”

The Warriors scored all of 12 points in the fourth quarter. They took 18 shots and missed 15. They coughed up four of their 16 turnovers, giving Houston 5 points.

Game.

The Houston team that once routinely collapsed under its own weight now expects to clobber you with it. If Harden fades, and he did, scoring six points in 22 minutes after halftime, Paul is there to close it out. And the defense now rises when needed.

When Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said on Monday that the Warriors were facing more pressure in Game 4, he was trying to pacify his team. He was lying.

That lie is now the truth. The Warriors go back to Houston to face a team that is fresh off showcasing its improved defense and, moreover, more confident than it was when this series started and exponentially more confident than it was after taking a 126-85 drubbing in Game 3.

When your reply to a 41-point loss in Game is to wipe out a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit in Game 4 -- on the road, no less -- it feeds steroids to your swagger.

“We've been doing it all year long,” Harden said of Houston’s resilience. “That's the main reason we're in this position we're in today. (Game 3) was just one loss. We all know what that is. We've got the mentality that we were going to win Game 4. We've talked about it. We've preached it.”

“And we came out and then stopped. They made runs and they were going to especially at home, and we kept fighting, kept fighting, and defensively kept locking in and making big time shots.”

The Rockets came into Oracle Arena on opening night, last Oct. 17, and after trailing by 13 entering the fourth quarter toughed out a 122-121 victory. After wiping out double-digit deficits twice in Oakland to defeat the defending champs, they believe.

That’s what the Warriors now have to face. The New Rockets are different. They can summon a fearsome defense. And they don’t seem inclined to hurt themselves.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

After D'Antoni's harsh critique, Rockets prove they aren't soft with Game 4 win

After D'Antoni's harsh critique, Rockets prove they aren't soft with Game 4 win

OAKLAND -- Following Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena Sunday evening, Rockets head coach, Mike D’Antoni, called his team soft. After a stunning 95-92 victory in Game 4 Tuesday evening, he backtracked a bit on his critique of his team.

“They’re not soft and they proved it. I misspoke and you guys miss wrote it,” D’Antoni said with a laugh.

Twice the Rockets fell behind by 12 points, once in the wild first quarter and again in the early fourth. But they rode out the offensive outbursts of the Golden State Warriors and showed incredible grit and physicality down the stretch.

“We’ve been doing it all year long, that’s the main reason we’re in this position today,” James Harden said following the victory over the Warriors. “That third game was just one loss.”

It’s not easy to shake off a 41-point drubbing, but that is exactly what the Rockets did on Tuesday. A ruckus Oracle crowd turned silent when Stephen Curry missed a potential tying 3-ball as time expired.

“I think there was great basketball played on both sides, stretches of it,” D’Antoni said. “The rest of it is just gutting it out and finding a will, a way, a want.”

With the win, the Rockets have retaken home court advantage as the series moves back to Houston. They’ll play two of the next three at the Toyota Center, if the series goes a full seven games.

“We’re back to even. We know what we have to do. See if we can do it against a great team,” D’Antoni said.

Clamping Down in the Fourth Quarter
Houston is an offensive juggernaut. During the regular season, they hoisted 3-point shots at an incredible clip and finished the year with the league’s second highest scoring offense.

But the playoffs are a different game and the Rockets are adjusting to the physicality of the NBA’s second season. For one night, they played playoff caliber defense, especially late in the contest with the game on the line.

After falling behind big in the fourth, Houston turned up the intensity and the Warriors didn’t respond well. The Rockets held Golden State to just 12 points in the fourth quarter on 3-of-18 shooting.

“We were really disciplined all game long, especially in the fourth,” Clint Capela said.

Houston’s rotations were on point throughout the final 12 minutes as they held the Warriors to 0-of-6 from behind the arc. What few shots the Warriors did make were contested well.

“When we’re locked in and we’re all on a string, we’re a really good team,” veteran Trevor Ariza said.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined to hit 2-of-13 from the field in the final frame as Rockets came away with the unlikely road win.

Harden Disappears
Harden was on his way to a breakout game Tuesday evening at Oracle Arena. He’d used an array of crossover dribbles and step back 3-pointers to lead Houston with 24 first half points.

After shooting 8-of-17 in the first two quarters, the likely league MVP struggled after the break. He finished the evening with 30 points, scoring six points in the second half on 3-of-9 from the field and 0-for-6 from long range.

“I don’t care how many points I scored, who cares, we won,” Harden told the media following the game.

Harden is correct, the final score is all that matters in the end. Harden looked like a completely different player after the intermission, but his team is all knotted up at 2-2 against the reigning Champs.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm