In way only he can, Draymond electrifies Warriors to Game 1 win vs Blazers

In way only he can, Draymond electrifies Warriors to Game 1 win vs Blazers

OAKLAND -- Three quarters into Game 1 of a postseason they’re built to win, the Warriors, at home, before 20,000 roaring maniacs dressed in bright gold T-shirts, were caught up in a tie game with a 15-point underdog.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 22 points in the third quarter, and still the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, without their only imposing big man and relying on only two players, would not back down.

With the fourth quarter looming, Warriors coach Steve Kerr formulated a plan he hoped would lift his team to victory.

Code name: Draymond.

It worked. Like magic. With Curry and Durant on the bench, Draymond Green and his crew entered, and Green began waving the kind of defensive spell rarely seen on a basketball court, rudely informing Portland there would be no upset on Easter Sunday in Oakland.

Barely four minutes later, the Warriors had their first double-digit lead of the game, parlaying it into a 121-109 win in Game 1 of this first-round Western Conference playoff series.

“I felt like we finally had a little traction defensively,” Kerr said of his personnel decision to start the fourth quarter. “And also, KD was going really well in the third quarter. He was scoring, so we didn't want to take him out.

“So it made perfect sense to go to Draymond to start the fourth, and he and David West, I thought, anchored our defense really well.”

West anchored the defense. Green electrified it.

“In the fourth quarter, that unit that was out there to start the quarter got a lot of stops and got the crowd into it, got the momentum back on our side,” Curry said.

“We had six turnovers in the fourth,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Draymond had an impact on the game at the rim and in the paint.”

Green opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, giving the Warriors a 91-88 lead they never lost. Playing all but 80 seconds of the fourth, Green produced 10 points on one end, three blocks and two steals on the other.

He blocked a short jumper by CJ McCollum (41 points) that led to a Klay Thompson bucket, giving the Warriors a 99-90 lead with 8:19 remaining.

Green swiped the ball from Damian Lillard (34 points) that led to a pair of free throws by Ian Clark, putting the Warriors up 101-90 with 7:57 left.

Twenty-two seconds later, Green blocked an Evan Turner jumper, forcing a Portland turnover.

Green added one more steal, and another block -- a spectacular denial of Lillard at the rim -- that led to a Durant layup and a 109-99 lead with 4:39 remaining.

What Green did not do was part the sea or turn water to wine. He merely cleared Oracle Arena of all the tension built up through the first three quarters.

“Draymond was amazing,” Kerr said. “He made some tremendous defensive plays. He made threes. He rebounded the ball. He had nine assists. I mean, he played a game that I'm not sure anybody else in the league is capable of, honestly.

“Who else can do what Draymond just did tonight? He's so unique and so important to us. He was phenomenal.”

Green’s final line: 19 points (6-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep, and 4-of-7 from the line), game-high 12 rebounds, game-high nine assists, game-high five blocks and game-high three steals.

He played a team-high 27 minutes and submitted a plus-15 total was, of course, the best on either team.

No two plays demonstrated Green’s impact more than the block on Lillard, which sent away Portland’s All-Star, and a similar at-the-rim rejection of Blazers big man Noah Vonleh in the third quarter. Both blocks turned the Warriors bench into a flash mob, while sending the crowd into hysterics.

“When you block it at the rim, it's a little different because that's one of those plays where you're within a half inch to a centimeter of being dunked on,” Green explained. “So when you actually come up with the block, it is a bit more excitement.

“When you're coming across and you get a swat, that's usually weak side. You come across the top and you get a swat on a guy. But at the rim it's mano y mano, man against man. Who is going to win the battle?”

Green won the battles, all of them that mattered, allowing the Warriors to win the game and take a 1-0 series lead.

The series isn’t over, but Green curtly told the Blazers to go elsewhere in search of a comeback.


Steve Kerr jokes about wanting to trade spots with Andre Iguodala

Steve Kerr jokes about wanting to trade spots with Andre Iguodala

Steve Kerr has accomplished a lot during his playing and coaching career.

He played four seasons for Lute Olson at Arizona. He spent 15 years playing in the NBA, and won five NBA titles during that time.

As a coach, Kerr has made the NBA Finals in each of his first four seasons with the Warriors, and has won three championships.

If you're Steve Kerr, there aren't many people you'd want to trade places with.

Except, there is one Warriors player Kerr would like to be.

"I definitely would trade spots with Andre [Iguodala]," Kerr said on Friday on 95.7 The Game. "I can only imagine what it has felt like to be Andre iguodala over the last 20 years playing basketball. That kind of athleticism, intelligence and feel, I could only dream about being the player he is."

Iguodala, a first-round pick in 2004, has won three titles with Kerr, was named NBA Finals MVP in 2015, was selected to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game and will have earned nearly $170 million through contracts by the time his deal with the Warriors is up.

So, we can understand why Kerr might want to trade places with Iguodala.

[RELATED: Iguodala reveals reason for improved play]

Kerr was asked a really tough question by host Damon Bruce: Who had the better playing career as an Arizona Wildcat, himself or Iguodala?

"How do I answer that?" Kerr joked. "I guess I did because I was there five years and he was there two years."

Dirk Nowitzki remembers one thing most about 2007 Game 6 loss to Warriors

Dirk Nowitzki remembers one thing most about 2007 Game 6 loss to Warriors

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Saturday afternoon at 4 P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

May 3, 2017 is a special day in Golden State Warriors history.

The No. 8 seed Warriors knocked off the No. 1 seed Mavericks in Game 6 at Oracle Arena to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.

Dirk Nowitzki -- who was named MVP about two weeks later -- had one of the worst games of his career. He scored just eight points and went 2-for-13 from the field.

But it was something that took place off the court that stands out more than anything for Dirk when he thinks about that difficult day.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic has the details:

“Crazy atmosphere,” Dirk remembered. “Crazy. One of the loudest buildings I’ve been in. The fans were so in it, any run they had.”

What does Dirk remember most? The pregame tailgates.

“It doesn’t happen much in basketball,” Dirk said. “Happens more in football, when the fans cookout before. But that was the case when we drove up to the arena two-and-a-half hours, three hours before tip.

“Fans were out there flipping us off, mooning us on our way in. It was crazy. As a competitor, fun to play, but it kind of pushed them to another level. The fans were a big part of that.”

On Saturday night, Dirk will play at Oracle for the last time in his career.

The crowds might not be as consistently loud as they were during the "We Believe" run in 2007, but the man who has scored the sixth most points in NBA history has a lot of respect for the people who have filled up Oracle over the years.

[RELATEDSteph Curry will not play when Warriors host Luka Doncic, Mavericks]

“Oracle was always a fun place to play,” Nowitzki told The Athletic. “Even in the years early in my career, when the team wasn’t good, I thought the fans were always amazing there. Always great crowds. Always loud when they made runs. A great stop.

“They say the fans have changed a little bit. Because, yeah, obviously the ticket prices are a little higher than they used to be 20 years ago. But I didn’t really notice. It’s still super loud. Honestly, when Steph gets on one of his runs and starts shooting 3s from 35 feet, the place goes absolutely bonkers.”

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