OAKLAND, Calif. — It was a night full of nostalgia for Golden State Warriors fans at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night, as the team celebrated the 10th anniversary of the “We Believe” squad that upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 NBA playoffs.
Former players Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson and Monta Ellis among others were all honored during a short ceremony after the first quarter. The presence of the We Believe team created a buzz inside the building that had only been felt a handful of times throughout this season.
But as the game went on, it was the defense of the 2016-17 Warriors that kept the fans cheering for more.
Utah held opponents to an NBA-low 96.8 points per game during the regular season and operated with the league’s lowest pace which are both stark contrasts to the Warriors free-flowing style of play. The Warriors ability to score in transition will be key to keeping the pace in their favor throughout the series.
“We really turned defense into offense,” Draymond Green told reporters after the game. “And that's what we've been talking about leading up to this series was just trying to push the pace and really using our defense to do that.”
Golden State outscored Utah 29-to-6 in fast break points in game one, including 20 points off 14 Utah turnovers.
“It all starts with the defensive side of the ball,” said forward Kevin Durant, who finished with 17 points, five assists and five rebounds. “You get stops and rebounds, you can run out. But if we're taking the ball out every time, it's hard for us to get into rhythm in a transition game.”
Stephen Curry played just 30 minutes but led all scorers with 22 points, including seven rebounds and five assists. Draymond Green turned in the line of the night with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists along with two steals and two blocked shots.
The Warriors controlled game one from tip-off to the final buzzer, and there is not much reason to believe that things will change at any point of the series. Golden State came out as the hungrier team and took what was rightfully theirs from Utah.
“I thought they just were smarter, yes, but just more urgent and quicker thinking,” said Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder. “They were more reactive. If you have those moments where you're not urgent enough, they just punish you for it.”