We collectively wondered whether the Warriors would turn on the switch for the playoffs.
Phrases like “Kawhi-less and “without-Steph” are morphing into overused adjectives that will come to define the first round. At some point though, we need to recognize the series for what it is: two teams playing without their respective MVPs. In the first tilt, a “Steph-less” Warriors team worked out just fine.
First and foremost, Steph paid homage to all of us the Blog Boys by sporting this new “Ringer” swag. We should all own one.
The Warriors played some of their best defense of the year in the first quarter. Seven minutes into the game, the Spurs had a paltry 8 points. On offense, the Dubs relied on high percentage shots and JaVale McGee (shockingly) carried the offensive load. Durant started 4-5 from the field, and by the end of Q1, the Warriors led by 9 points.
Here are a few highlights.
JaVale brought the block party...
The second quarter featured more of the same.
Kerr’s boys continued their stifling defense and Kevin Durant finished the half on pace for a triple double. Eight Warriors scored baskets and the team shot 59% percent from the field.
When I say “Defense is just Offense without the ball,” THIS is what I’m talking about. Look at the perfect rotations pic.twitter.com/rD6XtsQN3R— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 14, 2018
Andre Iguodala hit an open three and continued his inspired first-half play after earning the starting point guard spot. However, he came up limping in a drive to the basket after landing awkwardly. He later returned to the game.
The Athletic’s Anthony Slater sums up the first half:
Warriors up 57-41 at half— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 14, 2018
-Durant doing it all: 16-6-5 + defense
-JaVale and Klay both 4/5 FG
-Spurs 14/41 shooting, getting nothing in the paint
-Draymond's shot not there, but everywhere defensively
Note that Klay Thompson only took five shots. Also note: he made four of them, hitting his only three-point attempt. Keep an eye on Klay’s shot volume in the playoffs. Safe to say, Thompson was more aggressive and just as efficient in the second half.
Worth noting: San Antonio’s young defensive maven, Dejounte Murray struggled out of the half with three quick fouls. Missing Murray in the third turned out to be a huge blow to the Spurs.
More importantly, the Warriors offensive game plan shifted to Klay Thompson who continued his uber-efficient day.
Golden State continued making smart offensive decisions in the third quarter. Here’s a vintage Warriors transition combo where Draymond Green finds a wide-open Thompson who hits his eighth shot in 10 attempts. Green was excellent all game.
Warriors had been struggling a lot in transition to make good decisions. This one turned out well for them pic.twitter.com/yFiAb3rSrk— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 14, 2018
The Warriors finished the quarter with a 23-point lead. Durant finished the quarter with 24 points and JaVale McGee eclipsed his season high in points with 15. Meanwhile, the Spurs struggled to find a source of steady offense. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay led the team in scoring after three quarters. Aldridge finished the game with two rebounds.
Warriors are shooting 55.9%— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 14, 2018
Spurs are shooting 36.7%
Those are not advanced metrics, but I think the Warriors will take them.
Despite Durant and Draymond Green’s contributions all game, Klay Thompson became the story of the game in the fourth after nailing three more shots to start the quarter, bringing the Warriors to a 100-75 lead with 7:28 left. Thompson never shot a free throw and finished with 27 points on 13 shots. I’ll take that.
In the fourth, Kerr played a few subs who saw minimal action in the first three quarters. Nick Young hit a three to give the Warriors their largest lead of the afternoon — 28 points. Also, Jordan Bell and Damian Jones also entered the game in the fourth quarter for the first time all game. Zaza Pachulia sat for Game 1.
The Spurs played 13 players, and none finished with more than 15 points. This team misses Kawhi Leonard. It seems the Warriors can turn on the switch and have their swagger back.
Final score: 113-92
Who was your Warrior Wonder in the opening game of the 2018 playoffs?
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