OAKLAND – When the Warriors gather Monday morning to review video of their Game 1 victory over rival Houston, they will get a clear view of how fortunate they were to come out on top.
“We can turn on the tape and look at all these turnovers,” coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I mean, around the back (pass) in the lane? Come on, Draymond.
“We’re going to show a lot of those turnovers. We’ll show a lot of the reaches. It won’t work. But we’re going to show it.”
The Warriors will see their turnovers, all 20 of them, accounting for one-fifth of the Rockets’ 100 points.
They’ll see Stephen Curry picking up five fouls in his latest flirtation with disaster.
They’ll see calls that the officiating crew missed, and there were several, victimizing both teams – though the Rockets were considerably more vehement in their protests, with coach Mike D’Antoni being assessed a technical foul and Chris Paul being hit with two, resulting in ejection.
They’ll see that usually productive Houston center Clint Capela, in Year 1 of a five-year contract worth $90 million, was abysmal, that forward PJ Tucker was scoreless despite open looks and that forward Kenneth Faried, all lean muscle and hyperkinetic energy, never left the bench.
After getting a full-screen glimpse of that – as well as Kevin Durant’s timely scoring and Green’s tremendous all-around game – the Warriors may ought to understand that they were fortunate to come away with a win.
Indeed, Durant scored 35 points but committed six turnovers and Green committed five while coming within a rebound and an assist of a triple-double.
Which is why this 104-100 victory was practically perfect for the Warriors. It gives the coaching staff plenty of material to discuss and the players a lot to correct. There may not be a better medicine to treat apathy than winning Game 1 of a series despite displaying obvious flaws.
“We turned over the ball way too much. And we fouled way too much,” Green conceded.
“Our turnovers, we've got to get better at that, get better possessions,” Curry said. “It's always interesting, that first game against a new team, a new series, where even though we're very familiar with what they do, you still have to adjust, see the pictures clearly on offense, where the driving lanes are, where the spacing should be, just playing under control. Those are things we could get better at.”
With the Warriors having such a quick turnaround, closing out the Clippers on Friday night in Los Angeles, arriving in the Bay Area after 1 a.m. Saturday and tipping off against Houston less than 36 hours later, I asked Kerr if he thought fatigue might be a factor in the turnovers.
“No, because 13 of them were in the first half,” he said. “There were only seven in the second. We were in a rush. We were so excited to get downhill. Most of the turnovers, in my mind, were not forced by the defense. It was more about decision-making on our part.”
It’s not that the Warriors were awful. They outrebounded Houston by 12. Their defense was excellent, with Kerr noting he was pleased with the effort that limited NBA scoring leader James Harden to 9-of-28 shooting from the field.
Durant’s 24-point second half was fantastic. Green’s energy lit up Oracle Arena. Andre Iguodala scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, adding four rebounds, two assists, one block and plenty of disruptive defense on Harden. The Warriors also got heavy and mostly positive minutes from Klay Thompson and Curry, both of whom were listed as questionable with tender ankles.
So, yes, they have a lot to feel good about. But when I asked Green what he liked about this game, he hesitated ever so slightly.
“I like that we won,” he said.
Draymond knows they can easily be better, and there is a measure of satisfaction in that.