Warriors

Warriors have one thing they need to fix heading into Game 2 vs. Clippers

Warriors have one thing they need to fix heading into Game 2 vs. Clippers

OAKLAND -- With his Warriors up 12 points midway through the third quarter Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, Kevin Durant received a pass from Kevon Looney, marking the start of a fast break, and immediately threw a cross-court pass over Draymond Green's head, resulting in his second turnover.

The play characterized Golden State's offensive output in its NBA playoff opener. Despite overwhelming the Clippers in a 121-104 Game 1 win, the Warriors showed, even while dominating, that their focus must be on the little things. 

"We weren't focused," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following the team's film session Sunday. "Kevin had one where he threw it up in the air in the backcourt. There's no reason for the decision-making."

In a game that Golden State otherwise dominated, it gave away the ball 21 times, in play characterized by lazy passes and questionable decisions. Throughout the Warriors' five-year run of dominance, they have toed the line between brilliance and recklessness, sometimes opting to make the spectacular play when the simple option is just as effective.

Green was the main culprit Saturday, committing six turnovers in 35 minutes, offsetting his 17 points and seven assists.

"I think, all in all, we played really hard, which was great," Kerr said following Saturday's game. "We didn't play that well or that smart."

Perhaps the play that defined Kerr's ire came with 7:45 left in the third quarter, when Green, leading the fast break, threw an errant, off-balance pass over DeMarcus Cousins' head, right into the hands of Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari, leading to an LA fast break.

"I had mentioned Draymond had three or four. He's coming down, on the run, getting caught in the air, throwing left-handed passes," Kerr said Sunday. "The quality of the pass is so important."

Green wasn't alone in his misfires. Cousins, in his first playoff start, had six turnovers, and Durant and Steph Curry combined for seven.

Even during their historic run, the Warriors have not been immune to turnovers. Two years ago, even while going 16-1 in the postseason, they averaged 13.6 turnovers, fifth-worst in the league. The year before, after winning a league-record 73 games, they were among the bottom five in turnovers, averaging 14.4 per game.

[RELATED: Mike Brown offers reality check for Clippers after Game 1]

On Sunday, after watching the final holes of Tiger Woods' win at the Masters, the Warriors held a brief film session, with one of the chief goals heading into Game 2 clear: Take care of the ball. 

"You've got to be on target," Kerr said. "You've got to be sure of yourself, and we got away with it last night, but we've got to do a much better job with our decision-making."

Warriors know they can't be complacent in Game 5 vs. Clippers

Warriors know they can't be complacent in Game 5 vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- The Golden State Warriors seized control of their NBA playoff first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, taking a three games-to-one lead Sunday afternoon.

But any Warriors observer can admit the team's susceptibility to complacency, evidenced by their blown 31-point lead in Game 2 last week.

The occasional lapses have been met with a scrappy, young, No. 8-seeded Clippers team that has stuck with the champs tooth and nail throughout the series. Despite the loss, the Clippers showed why the Warriors can't afford to display their complacent ways in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

"They're a talented team," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said after Sunday's 113-105 win. "They're an eighth seed of whatever that means, but they're competitive, and they have guys that you got to pay attention to."

In a game the Warriors led by 10 at the end the first quarter and eight at halftime, the Clippers never seemed out of it. Rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 25 points, helping offset Klay Thompson's 27 first-half points. In the third quarter, the Clippers opened on an 18-11 run to cut the Warriors' eight-point lead to one with 6:19 to go in the quarter. A little over two minutes later, Los Angeles even took a brief five-point lead before Golden State regained control.

"I loved how we fought," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I loved how we kept coming back. You know, because you have to against them. I didn't think any of our guys were fazed when one of their guys made a shot or made a great play. We went right back at them. I think that's how you have to play them."

Many NBA observers didn't believe the Clippers would be in the playoffs two months ago, let alone secure the No. 8 seed. One day before the trade deadline, the Clippers sent away leading scorer Tobias Harris, center Boban Marjanović and forward Mike Scott in exchange for forward Wilson Chandler, big man Mike Muscala and rookie guard Landry Shamet in a move that was seen as a deal to build the team for the future instead of play for the present.

Instead, the Clippers won 13 of 15 games in March to earn a playoff berth in the final weeks of the season. Still, the Warriors -- who have battled with complacency issues all season -- have had mental lapses in the first-round matchup. On Tuesday, they were outscored 85-58 in the second half of Game 2, as Shamet scored 12 and made the go-ahead bucket late in the fourth quarter, putting a brief scare in the champs.

"They don't stop, man," Durant said. "They're one of those teams, they make you feel them all game, and even when you go home after the game, you're going to be thinking about them because they're tough."

Despite being severely outmanned in the series, the Clippers have given the Warriors their best shot. Guard Patrick Beverley has baited Warriors forward Kevin Durant into an ejection, enticing Curry into foul trouble and earning the champs' respect in the process as both teams head to Oracle Arena for Game 5.

[RELATED: Dip in the ocean woke up Klay for Game 4]

"One thing I will say about our team is we will be ready," Rivers said following Game 4. "We'll show up. I can guarantee you that. This team has never not done that, and it would be nice to get back here, that's for sure."

"We have definitely had to earn the wins we've gotten," Curry added. "And the work is not done until the horn sounds on that fourth win."

Kevin Durant's chameleon-like skills aiding Warriors vs. Clippers

Kevin Durant's chameleon-like skills aiding Warriors vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES – The first Warrior to launch was Draymond Green, missing a 3-pointer 24 seconds after tipoff. That was followed 41 seconds later by Klay Thompson draining a jumper, with an Andrew Bogut missing a jump hook 23 seconds after that.

Stephen Curry got into the action, missing a 3-pointer with 10:08 left in the first quarter, with Bogut following with a dunk and then Green missing from in close a few seconds later.

Where was Kevin Durant?

He was on the court the entire time, but he was the last of the five starters to hoist a shot Sunday in Game 4 of their NBA playoffs first-round series against the Clippers. Would this be one of those instances when KD would look to score or would he opt to wear his distributor cap?

He did both.

“Whether it’s coming off screens, pick-and-rolls, being a facilitator or scoring in the post,” Durant said, “I’ve just got to be ready to dive deep in the bag.”

Durant totaled six assists, roughly his average over the final six weeks of the regular season and one more than he had averaged through the first three games of the series. He also had a game-high 33 points as the Warriors posted a 113-105 win at Staples Center.

He ended up taking 21 shots (making 12), one more than Thompson, who scored 32 points. Durant also grabbed seven rebounds.

Durant’s numbers came because he discerned the needs of the team, considering the circumstances and making logical decisions. Most everything he did seemed to regarded such factors as timing and whichever four teammates with whom he was sharing the floor.

His first two shots came in the fourth minute of the game, jumpers that went in. But he quickly realized the Clippers had made an adjustment. Instead of being defended by pesky 6-foot-1 guard Patrick Beverley, who had the assignment in the first three games, Los Angeles coach turned to JaMychal Green, who at 6-9 is just two inches shorter than Durant.

“Where I initiate and where I operate from the floor has to change,” Durant said of the switch. “I can mix in playing same way I played the previous game a little. But to keep the defense off balance and not be predictable out there, I’ve got to use the full body of my offensive talents.”

When he recognized how hot Thompson was in the first quarter – he made his first seven shots – Durant tried to feed him.

Later in the game, with Curry struggling to find a semblance of offensive rhythm, Durant was trying to send passes his way.

With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Durant often was the primary ballhandler – even when Curry and Green were on the floor.

“Coach called my number in the fourth quarter to handle the ball, but that doesn’t mean to just score,” Durant said. “If I see an opportunity to get a bucket, I try to take advantage. But Klay had it going. He had a mismatch.

“Especially when the ball is in my hands a lot, I know it’ll come around. So I just tried to get everybody else going and get our energy going from just touching the basketball. I think that provides energy, when everybody touches the ball.”

It’s working. Other than playing 17 minutes of brutal basketball to finish Game 2 with a thud, the Warriors have been nearly as good as expected.

Midway through the third quarter of Game 2, the Warriors led by 30 and KD had taken five shots.

Midway through the third quarter of Game 3, they were up 31 and he had taken 19 shots.

[RELATED: Warriors can't be complacent in Game 5]

Durant gained a reputation as a scorer by winning four scoring titles in a five-year span as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. But he’s also willing passer, sometimes too willing.

He can do both, and quite well when he is fully engaged, as he was in Games 3 and 4.