Warriors

Warriors hiding their secret weapon in plain sight

Warriors hiding their secret weapon in plain sight

OAKLAND -- When the stage is this massive, with an audience numbering deep into the millions, it would seem impossible for the Warriors to maintain a veil of secrecy over their ultimate weapon.

They can’t possibly, don’t even try to, hide the skills of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson et al.

They can’t dream of concealing the most lethal offensive attack in the NBA, one that features particularly remarkable work in transition.

Somehow, though, the Warriors have managed to keep sliding their devastating defense under the radar.

Still.

Despite the Warriors being a top-five defensive team five years running, this team’s defense continues to hide in plain sight.

Despite entering these playoffs ranked No. 1 in field-goal-percentage defense for the second time in three years, most of the conversation about the Warriors revolves around Curry’s 3-pointers, Thompson’s scalding shooting spurts and the significance of adding Durant last summer.

As if defense is something played by Green alone.

But Game 1 of The Finals on Thursday was merely the latest exhibition of the Warriors utilizing defense to destroy an opponent. The Cavaliers have been the hottest shooters of these playoffs, firing at 50.7 percent through their first 13 games, and they were utterly iced by the Warriors. The Cavs shot 34.9 percent from the field, their lowest mark of the postseason. Those other than LeBron James or Kyrie Irving shot 25 percent.

“If we have that same defensive effort collectively, we'll be really tough to beat,” Thompson said during a conference call Friday.

No one on the Warriors, not even Green, who was terrific, was better than Thompson, who according to league stats held his man to 1-of-12 shooting.

The most underplayed aspect, however, is the work of Durant and Curry. They carried the offense, combining for 66 points, but they also held tight on defense.

Both guarded multiple positions, with Durant the primary defender on James but also taking turns on Kevin Love and even Tristan Thompson. Curry harassed JR Smith and Deron Williams into costly turnovers.

“Steph took it personal,” Draymond Green said. “His ‘shows’ were great. His defense was amazing. And if he . . . when he takes it personal like that and he accepts the challenge, we're a damn good defensive team.”

The Warriors, as a team, found ways to disrupt and corrupt most everything Cleveland tried to do, from frustrating Love and Smith to rendering Thompson ineffective to making ace sniper Kyle Korver completely disappear.

Keep in mind, this was Cavs coach Tyronn Lue giving most of his minutes to his “offensive” squad, while Iman Shumpert, Thompson and Smith -- decent defenders -- each played fewer than 23 minutes.

“Defensively, you have to tip your hat to them,” said Love, who totaled 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

“You’ve got to credit their defense,” Lue said. “That's why they're the number one defensive team.”

Such an effective defensive performance is not unusual for the Warriors and certainly not to these playoffs.

In compiling a 13-0 record, the Warriors have limited opponents to 41.1-percent shooting overall and an adjusted field-goal percentage of 46.3. For the sake of comparison, the No. 2 team in both categories, with figures of 43.7 and 49.4, is Milwaukee, which was ousted in six games in the first round.

In the wake of Game 1, most of the talk centered on Durant’s assertive offense, and how his daredevil dribble-drives to the cup broke down Cleveland’s defense. Much less was said of how much of Durant’s offense was a product of his team’s defense. The Warriors outscored Cleveland 27-8 in fast-break points, and nearly all 27 were triggered by defense.

The Bulls of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen always drew praise for their defense. The Heat of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James were famous for crackling defense. Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are noted for their ability to take away the most dangerous component of an opponent’s offense.

The Warriors? Man, they sure run a beautiful offense. They sure can score.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 121-116 OT loss to Clippers

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AP

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 121-116 OT loss to Clippers

BOX SCORE

The Warriors didn’t have Stephen Curry at all, or Kevin Durant for the final four minutes. But they nearly found a way to steal a win in Los Angeles.

After wiping out a 14-point deficit inside the final seven minutes of regulation to pull into a tie with the Clippers, the Warriors pushed Monday night's game into overtime. They took their first lead of the game with 4:05 left in OT.

Nineteen seconds later, Durant fouled out, and that pretty much handed the game to the Clippers, who posted a 121-116 win at Staples Center.

Here are three takeaways from a game that the Warriors (11-3) didn’t deserve to win:

The Dubs were outworked ... until the final 11 minutes

The Warriors saw the scouting report and watched video. They realized one of the keys to the Clippers' success is their tenacity. They don’t have the most talent, but they’ve been outworking opponents.

So what happened? For 42 minutes, the Warriors still were outworked.

They dragged on defense and paid a steep price, as the Clippers shot 60.5 percent in the first half and 54.1 percent through the first three quarters. L.A. was beating Golden State badly on the glass (23-13 in the first half) and in second-chance points (9-0).

Though the Warriors turned those numbers around late in the fourth and OT, it wasn’t quite enough.

Durant didn’t get enough help on offense

KD had another strong game on offense, with a triple-double: 33 points (10-of-24 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He did about what was anticipated.

He needed a sidekick, though, and for most of the game, neither of the Warriors' other primary scoring threats -- Klay Thompson and Quinn Cook -- were up to the task.

Not until late in regulation and in overtime did Thompson rediscover his stroke. He finished with 31 points -- 20 in the fourth quarter and OT. He was 5 of 19 from the field before rallying to finish 13 of 31.

Cook, coming off a 27-point performance Saturday, managed just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting. He was as toothless Monday as he was terrific Saturday.

The one portion that held up its end was the bench. The reserves combined for 39 points on 15-of-22 shooting. On a normal night, that tips the scales.

On this night, it wasn't enough.

The young big men got cooked by L.A.'s

The Warriors are committed to relying mostly on their young centers -- Damian Jones, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney -- to be a presence in the paint. They failed miserably in this game.

All three, and a few of their teammates, were taken to school by none other than Montrezl Harrell. L.A.’s hyperactive young big man spent the evening controlling most everything within 10 feet of the basket.

Jones, Bell and Looney played a combined 42 minutes, and submitted 11 points and six rebounds. Looney, who played 26 minutes, had a few moments, but he eventually wore down.

Harrell came away with 23 points (10 of 13 shooting), eight rebounds and four blocks. He was too good to take off the floor, and a big reason for L.A.’s 62-36 advantage in paint points.

The Warriors don’t need much from the youngsters. But they do need them to provide more resistance.

[RELATED: Warriors offer $100 monthly pass at Oracle Arena with no view of court]

[MORE WARRIORS: Jacob Evans says none of rookie season with Warriors 'how I thought it would be']

Warriors offer $100 monthly pass at Oracle Arena with no view of court

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AP

Warriors offer $100 monthly pass at Oracle Arena with no view of court

The Warriors clearly want fans in Oracle Arena. Watching the game is a different story, though.

On Monday, the Warriors sent an email to fans offering a monthly "In The Building Pass," according to ESPN. The pass gets you into Oracle Arena for every home game at $100 per month.

There's a catch, though, and it's a big one. The mobile pass doesn't include a seat, or any view of the actual court. It will grant you access to Oracle Arena bars and restaurants, and fans can watch the game on TVs in the club area.

It's believed this is the first time a professional sports team is offering access to fans to be in the building for home games, yet they actually can't watch the game with a view of the court.

The Warriors will play in front of a sold-out home crowd for the 300th consecutive game Tuesday when they host the Hawks. Of the Warriors' two losses this season, one is at home.