Warriors

Warriors brief: Klay burns Spurs' game plan; tale of two halves for Draymond

Warriors brief: Klay burns Spurs' game plan; tale of two halves for Draymond

The playoffs have finally begun and the Warriors went back to their old winning ways.

Let's take a look back at a few notes from Game 1 as we look ahead to Game 2 tonight.

Work hard, Klay hard

What should scare the Spurs most about their Game 1 loss is that they actually gave a reasonable defensive effort guarding Klay Thompson. It was clear the Spurs game plan out the gate was to restrict Klay’s constant movement and deny him touches which proved to be rather effective, especially early on.

They held Klay to one field goal attempt in the first quarter with a rotation of Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray and Manu Ginboli among others, face guarding, holding, grabbing and playing defense on top of him. In the regular season, Klay averaged a usage rate of 23.7 percent. In Game 1 on Saturday, the Spurs held Klay to a usage rate of 18.6 percent, and that was mostly because the ball was hardly in Klay’s hands.

The problem though -- in his limited touches, Klay made the most of them. Five of Klay’s 11 field goal attempts were tightly contested, with Klay finishing four of them. The other seven shots were either open or wide open (he made six), the result of superior ball movement, the Warriors being in transition, or Spurs mistakes.

As Manu Ginobli said after the game: "We made a few mistakes that helped him to get off, but there are sometimes that he’s shooting some ridiculous shots." Most players in the NBA let a defense off the hook when they make only a "few mistakes." Klay didn’t. And that should scare the Spurs.

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The Warriors have to be very pleased to see Klay shooting with a confident stroke in the first game of the playoffs. It was just last season that he struggled with his shot through most of their 17 game playoff run to win the championship. On Saturday, Klay went 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Last season, Klay did not hit his fifth 3-pointer until the third game of the playoffs.

In his first 13 games of the playoffs last year, Klay shot 37 percent from the field and 34 percent from deep. To his credit however, in Games 2-5 of the Finals Klay shot 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range. It has only been one game so far, but it has to be a confidence booster to Klay and the Warriors.

***

Last season Klay averaged 15 points per game and attempted only 14 field goals per game in the 17 games on the road to the championship. It was just one season removed from a stellar postseason performance from Klay, in which he scored over 24 points per game on an average of 19 shots, over a 24-game run that ended with a Cavaliers celebration.

The big difference between the two seasons: Kevin Durant. Being the third scoring option obviously contributed to lower scoring and shots, but with Steph Curry out for the beginning of the playoffs this season, the Warriors will look to Klay to revert back to his 2016 playoffs form.

Game 1 half full 

It was a tale of two halves for Draymond in the first game of the series. In nearly 19 first half minutes on Saturday, Draymond went 3 for 9 from the field including missing his three attempts from long range. His first half also included two assists against three turnovers, which was the result of some ill-advised passes and what looked like some potential playoff jitters.

The second half was a much different story, as Draymond went 2-for-3 from distance, while contributing nine assists without a turnover. Look for Draymond to build on his second half performance in Game 2.

***

There was a lot of talk before the series of a potential Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge duel, however Game 1 did not contribute to the conversation. Draymond hardly guarded Aldridge throughout the game, instead letting JaVale McGee, David West and Kevon Looney take most of the duties.

Draymond played his free safety type role on defense, constantly switching and helping, staying engaged and involved guarding nearly every player on the court. If Aldridge were to go off and be more effective in the beginning of Game 2, look for Draymond to eventually be the primary defender on him.

Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter: @GrantLiffmann

Report: Tyler Ulis signing with Warriors instead of Kings, Rockets

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Report: Tyler Ulis signing with Warriors instead of Kings, Rockets

The Warriors still are waiting on Patrick McCaw to sign his qualifying offer, but they reportedly brought in some backcourt depth in the meantime.

The two-time defending champions are set to sign ex-Phoenix Suns guard Tyler Ulis to an Exhibit 10 contract, according to The Athletic and ESPN. Ulis chose to sign with the Warriors over the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, ESPN's Marc Spears reported Friday.

Ulis averaged 7.8 points and 23.4 minutes per game in 71 appearances with the Suns last season. He started 43 games, two of which came in April against the Warriors. 

The 22-year-old, whom the Suns drafted in the second round in 2016, figures to have a tough time cracking the Warriors' rotation. Point guards Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston and Quinn Cook all will be ahead of him on the depth chart, and Ulis' lack of size (5-foot-10, 150 pounds) makes time at the other guard spot unlikely. 

That explains his contract, then. An Exhibit 10 deal means that Ulis will receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if he signs with the G-League Santa Cruz after the Warriors waive him, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks' explainer of the deal. Ulis' deal also can become a two-way contract, minus the bonus. 

NBA rule changes announced for 2018-19 season

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NBA rule changes announced for 2018-19 season

Some of you may still be celebrating the Warriors' 2018 title in the street of Oakland.

Keep celebrating if you will, but it's time to move on to the 2018-19 season. And with that, the NBA is bringing more change to the game that keeps on growing. 

On Friday, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved three rule changes that will take place this season. With these changes, the league is looking to speed the game up while making it easier to follow.

Below is how the NBA describes each change: 

Shot Clock Reset – The shot clock will reset to 14 seconds in three scenarios: after an offensive rebound of a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim; after a loose ball foul is called on the defensive team immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim; or after the offensive team gets possession of the ball after it goes out of bounds immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim.

The rule has been in effect in the NBA G League since the 2016-17 season, in the WNBA since 2016 and in FIBA play since 2014-15.  The rule was also in place during 2018 NBA Summer Leagues.

Simplification of the Clear Path Foul Rule – The changes to the clear path foul rule establish “bright line” standards based on the position of players at the time of the foul while also narrowing required referee judgment and reducing the number of variables impacting the rule’s application. 

A clear path foul is now defined as a personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity in the following circumstances: the ball is ahead of the tip of the circle in the backcourt; no defender is ahead of the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity; the player with the transition scoring opportunity is in control of the ball (or a pass has been thrown to him); and if the foul deprives his team of an opportunity to score.

As part of the clear path foul rule simplification, referees will no longer need to make judgment calls as to whether or not a defender was between (or had the opportunity to be between) the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity and the basket.  In addition, referees will no longer have to determine whether or not the defender was at any time ahead of the offensive player prior to committing the foul, nor will it be relevant whether or not a defender beat the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity into the frontcourt.  Further, plays of this nature will no longer have to originate in the backcourt (since transition scoring opportunities can originate in the frontcourt).

Under the simplified rule, a clear path foul cannot occur if the fouled player is in the act of shooting or if the foul is caused by the defender’s attempt to intercept or deflect a pass intended for the player attempting to score in transition. 

If a clear path foul is committed, the offended team will continue to be awarded two free throws and possession of the ball on the sideline nearest the spot where the foul occurred.

Expanded Definition of “Hostile Act” for Replay Purposes – For purposes of triggering instant replay review, the definition of a “hostile act” has been broadened to enable referees to determine the appropriate penalty for players or coaches if they are involved in hostile encounters with each other, referees or fans. 

Let the games begin.