Warriors

KD grounds Rockets in Game 1: 'Kevin is the ultimate luxury'

KD grounds Rockets in Game 1: 'Kevin is the ultimate luxury'

HOUSTON -- Even with Stephen Curry still seeking rhythm and Klay Thompson unhappy with his 3-point shooting and Draymond Green missing four of his five shots, the Warriors proved plenty capable of piercing the improved Rockets defense.

That, after all, is why Kevin Durant is on the team.

If nothing else working beautifully, there is Durant to touch up opponents, as he did Monday night in lifting the Warriors to a 119-106 victory over Houston in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

“We want to keep the ball moving,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But, obviously, Kevin is the ultimate luxury because a play can break down and you just throw him the ball. He can get you a bucket as well as anybody on earth.”

Durant poured in 37 points, shooting 14-of-27 from the field, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the line. He didn’t do a whole lot more -- three rebounds, one block, one assist -- but he didn’t need to. Crushing the Rockets on the scoreboard was enough.

When the Warriors fell behind early, 12-4 and then 21-12, Durant was there to take corrective action, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. That was enough bring the Warriors within one, 30-29, before the quarter ended.

When the Rockets stayed with the Warriors in the third quarter, there was Durant, unloading 13 more on them.

The Warriors never trailed in the second half, because Durant wouldn’t allow it.

“He was ready for tonight,” Curry said. “Just us building up momentum throughout the regular season, the playoff and getting to this point, he was appreciative of the moment.”

So tuned in was Durant that when Kerr subbed him out with 2:14 left in the third, Durant was, well, displeased. He was rolling and wanted to stay in. Kerr wanted to rest him and bring him back in the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, he wasn’t really thrilled,” Kerr said. “And I probably should have left him in.”

The Warriors were up 85-72 when Durant went to the bench. Houston immediately reeled off five points in 24 seconds, turning it into an 8-0 run that brought them within five (85-80) before Durant returned drain two free throws in the final seconds of the quarter.

“I wanted to stay in the game at that point,” Durant said. “But that’s the best part about it. I trust Coach and we can move past these conversations pretty quickly.”

The Rockets wouldn’t mind seeing a little less of Durant. Like pretty much every team in the league, they have no answer to the problems he can cause.

“He’s been doing it for so long, man,” said James Harden, a former teammate of Durant in Oklahoma City. “He’s what, 6-11? He can shoot over anybody.

“We’ve got to do a better job of being more physical, getting him off his spots. But he’s going to take tough shots. We’ve got to do a better job of contesting and make it even harder for him.”

The metrics show Houston’s defense is improved over last season. The eye test shows the same thing. But when Durant is as assertive as he has been over the last three games -- averaging 33.0 points, on 54.2-percent shooting -- there isn’t a lot a team can do.

“We always need him to stay aggressive like that,” Green said. “Sometimes, when you play on such a great team, with other great scorers in Klay and Steph, you tend to sometimes think, ‘Oh, man, I need to get him a shot.’ The way our offense is set up, the ball is going to find those three guys and they’re going to get their shots.

"So when he’s playing aggressive like that, we’re really tough to beat.”

Warriors vs. Pacers watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

Warriors vs. Pacers watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

OAKLAND - After a successful four-game road trip, the champs are back home, starting a three-game home stretch against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:00 pm with Warriors Outsiders, followed by Warriors Pregame Live at 6:30 and a scheduled 7:30 pm tip-off from Oracle Arena.

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors vs. Pacers online and on MyTeams app]

Entering Thursday, Indiana has lost three straight games, but, despite a season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo, coach Nate McMillan has the Pacers fourth in the Eastern Conference. 

 

Here's everything you need to know about the matchup.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F Kevin Durant 

F Draymond Green

C DeMarcus Cousins

G Klay Thompson

G Steph Curry

 

Pacers

F Thaddeus Young

F Bojan Bogdanovic

C Myles Turner

G Cory Joseph

G Wesley Matthews

 

INJURY REPORT 

Warriors: Damian Jones (Left Pectoral Surgery) is out

 

Pacers: G Darren Collison (Right quad contusion) is out, G Victor Oladipo (Right knee surgery) is out.

 

[RELATED: Draymond talks KD's free agency, guarantees Warriors will win title]

ROTATION

Warriors: Golden State has won three of its last four games. Cousins, who missed the Warriors' last two games, is expected to return Thursday evening. In the last matchup against Indiana, Cousins had a then-season-high 22 points, adding six points and four assists. 

 

A repeat performance from Boogie on Thursday will be vital for a team that's lost three of their last five games at home. 

 

Pacers: Despite Oladipo's knee injury, Indiana still finds itself in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Pacers have supplemented Oladipo's scoring by a balanced attack. Each of Indiana's starting five is averaging double figures, including forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who is averaging 17.8 points and 4.1 rebounds, shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.

 

Chris Bosh explains why Heat to blame for Kevin Durant joining Warriors

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AP

Chris Bosh explains why Heat to blame for Kevin Durant joining Warriors

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders tonight at 6 P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

In July 2010, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh elected to team up in Miami.

About two years later, the Heat defeated Kevin Durant's Thunder squad in the 2012 NBA Finals.

Miami won the title again in 2013, while Oklahoma City never got back to the Finals.

In the summer of 2016, Durant chose to sign with the Warriors in free agency. Does KD leave OKC if Bosh and the Big Three didn't unite in South Beach?

“No,” Bosh told NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh. "That put pressure on him.

"I think it's kind of like a catch-22 that the modern athlete has been put in. There's so much emphasis on championships, right? And now guys are like, 'OK, I'm gonna position myself to win a championship,' and then that's when people don't like it."

And for KD specifically, many people still won't give him the credit he deserves for capturing two titles with the Warriors. The guy won back-to-back Finals MVPs and the haters continue to hold it against him that he chose to sign with Golden State.

After beating the Cavs in five games in 2017, Durant told The Ringer's Bill Simmons:

"People tell us we're superstars, and we really aren't ... after we won the championship, I had Taco Bell and it ran through me just like it would a normal person. I'm like, 'Oh sh*t. I thought I had a golden stomach (joking). I thought I was immune to everything, but no.

"That's the perception of it all -- we're just immortal. We're normal fu**ing people who are really good at what we do. But at the end of the day, we go to sleep just like everybody else. We really put on our pants just like everybody else ... it made me realize that I am not king anything because we won a championship." 

He then told NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors reporter Kerith Burke a couple weeks ago:

I don’t need anything in this basketball world to fulfill anything in me. The NBA is never going to fulfill me.

Bosh -- whose career was unfortunately cut short because of health problems -- agrees with KD's outlook.

[RELATEDPolice confirm Kevin Durant's 'adopted brother' killed outside Atlanta]

“There’s more (to life),” Bosh told NBC Sports. “If you’re fulfilled, then pretty much just give up on life and die after that, right? If you’re fulfilled? That’s a great statement that he (Durant) made.

"I think it’s telling people as well, this is just my interpretation, but it’s like, ‘Yo, chill’ because everybody puts the onus on that championship. It’s not going to fulfill you. And that’s one of the big secrets about it.”

It sounds like it's not a secret anymore.

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