Warriors

How Draymond Green's defense set tone for Warriors in win vs. Pistons

How Draymond Green's defense set tone for Warriors in win vs. Pistons

OAKLAND - Ten minutes into the first quarter of Sunday's win over the Pistons, Draymond Green found himself in the post against fellow forward and former adversary Blake Griffin. With 10 seconds left in the shot clock, Griffin took a couple of jab steps, trying to make room along the baseline, but not before Green's defense forced the All-Star to fumble the ball, allowing the shot clock to expire.

Green then tapped Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and held a blank stare to the crowd. The play, like his one-on-one battle with Griffin on Sunday night, set the tone Golden State's 121-114 victory over Detroit.

"I thought Draymond's energy and defensive effort sparked us all night," Steve Kerr said following the game.

From the onset of Sunday's matchup, Griffin, who finished with 24 points on 6-of-14 from the field, seemed to be playing the memories of yesteryear as much he played Green. For his first several possessions he sought out the Warriors' forward in the post, hoping his array of powerful post moves would beat the former Defensive Player of the Year.

Instead, he shot just 3-for-8 in the first half.

“At some point, somebody gotta figure it out," Green said. "Like, don’t target me in the post. I’ve been dealing with that my whole career. It used to piss me off, now it's like whatever. If y'all are going to do that, you'll probably lose.”

As Green's reached championship heights over the years, it's important to remember Griffin's role in Green's career. It was Griffin, then a member of the Clippers, who got under Green's skin in 2013 on Christmas Day, when both were ejected late in the second half of a Warriors win. It was Griffin and the Clippers who provided a stage for Green, then a role player, to break out in the 2014 Western Conference playoffs four months later, when Green averaged 11.9 points and 8.9 rebounds. And it was Griffin whom Green looked to as he hit a 3-pointer in the final moments of a Warriors win in 2014, one of the lasting images in the rivalry and the beginning of Golden State's current run.

This season, Griffin has been fantastic, averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists, earning his sixth All-Star appearance last month. Now, years later, Green still gets up for the matchup against Griffin, even as he plays more than 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles.

"I enjoy playing against great players and taking on a challenge," Green said. "Blake is a great player, he's gotten a lot better since the last time I faced him and I try to be physical. Very strong, likes to go bully ball from time to time, just staying my ground and trying to make him take tough shots."

Green's performance also helped whip the stain of a 126-91 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night. In the first half, the Warriors held the Pistons to 44 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from 3-point range. The outing came as the Warriors are trying to stay atop the Western Conference with nine games remaining.

[RELATED: Kerr on plan to rest Curry]

This season, Green has battled injuries, sideline shouting matches with superstar teammates and the expected failure to reach his goal of the Defensive Player of the Year award. But, at least for a night, the Warriors' heartbeat set the tone guarding the Pistons' best player.

"He takes the challenge when he faces Blake (Griffin)," Kerr said. "They have been going head to head for many years and its a hell of a challenge, Blake is tough as anybody to guard and Draymond was fantastic."

Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

LOS ANGELES – With a 2-1 series lead, the Warriors take the court Sunday afternoon for Game 4 against the Clippers in which one matchup likely will dictate the direction of the game and the series.

It’s not necessarily Kevin Durant vs. Patrick Beverley. Durant hit the jets on Beverley in Game 3, putting an end to the myth they were waging a battle.

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 live online]

The more impactful matchup is that between Andre Iguodala and Los Angeles scoring whiz Lou Williams – and it surely will be a topic during pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area beginning with Warriors Outsiders at 11 a.m., followed by SNC Playoff Central. Tipoff of the ABC telecast begins at 12:30 p.m.

For the Clippers to have a reasonable chance to win, Williams must produce. When he scored in 36 points on 59-percent shooting in Game 2, LA won by four. When he scored 16 on 36-percent shooting in Game 3, the Warriors won by 27.

For roughly 80 percent of Williams’ playing time in Game 3, he was shadowed by Iguodala – the two were teammates for seven seasons in Philadelphia – who occasionally got help. With Iguodala containing Williams and Draymond Green’s stifling No. 2 scorer Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers were limited on offense.

A repeat of that practically ensures a Warriors victory, giving them a 3-1 series lead going into Game 4 Wednesday in Oakland.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C Andrew Bogut
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry

Clippers
F Patrick Beverley
F Danilo Gallinari
C Ivaca Zubac
G Landry Shamet
G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C DeMarcus Cousins (L quadriceps tear) and C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) are listed as out.

Clippers: No injuries listed.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: Durant’s massive Game 3 performance raised the ceiling of the Warriors and could pay dividends for teammates Curry and Thompson in Game 4. More attention on Durant could mean space for the guards.

Kevon Looney and Iguodala have been very good off the bench, with Looney’s playing at high efficiency and Iguodala delivering at both ends. Looney’s success is a bit surprising in that he can’t match the athleticism of LA reserve big man Montrezl Harrell but still has become a problem for the Clippers.

The initial insertion of Bogut at starting center was something of an experiment, with the belief he could match up with Zubac and the hope he could counteract Harrell’s energy. It’s working, for the most part and is not likely to change.

Clippers: Harrell has been their most consistently effective player. He’s averaging 22 ppg (76.5 percent FG) and 6.3 rpg. The Williams-Harrell pick-and-roll had been an issue but was less effective in Game 3.

The Clippers have KD problem and there’s no easy answer for Clippers coach Doc Rivers. The strategy of using Beverley, who gives up at least eight inches in height, is designed to make Durant uncomfortable and limit his off-the-dribble action. Screens consistently freed Durant in Game 3, so it will be interesting to see what, if any, adjustment is made.

[RELATED: Kerr believes Iguodala can play as long as he wants, but will he?]

Gallinari’s 2-of-13 shooting in Game 3 puts him at 14-of-44 (31.8 percent). As the best scorer in LA’s starting lineup, it’s imperative he generate some offense. They’ll look to get more out of Shamet, their designated shooter. With Thompson and Curry doing most of the defensive work, Shamet is averaging 7.0 points (30 percent FG).

Officials: Tony Brothers (crew chief), Sean Wright, Brent Barnaky. Alternate: Tre Maddox.

Warriors vs. Clippers live stream: Watch NBA playoffs Game 4 live online

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Clippers live stream: Watch NBA playoffs Game 4 live online

The Warriors were back to their dominant selves in Game 3 of the NBA playoffs, and on this Easter Sunday, they look to take a resounding 3-1 first-round series lead. 

After taking a 31-point lead in Game 2, the Warriors fell asleep before responding in Game 3. But for Game 4, the Dubs aren't worried about taking a step back.

Sunday will be an early start, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT. The Warriors are down two centers, with DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones ruled out.

Here's how you can watch Warriors-Clippers Game 4 on ABC, as well as NBC Sports Bay Area's "SNC: Warriors Playoff Central" pregame and postgame coverage live on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

When: 12:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, April 21, on ABC (pregame show starts on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus at 11:30 a.m.)
Pregame/postgame show live stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app
Game live stream: WatchESPN