The Golden State Warriors failed to hold onto their home-court advantage in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers, losing 117-112 in front of the Chase Center crowd. There were some positives for both teams to take away from the matchup, but the biggest question facing Golden State is what they can do about Anthony Davis.
While the Dubs entered the Western Conference Semifinals as gambling favorites, the Lakers had a massive rest advantage heading into Game 1 having finished their first-round series two days before the Dubs. With just one day of rest, the Warriors looked to lack the energy they needed to slow down the Lakers.
In a series billed for Steph Curry versus LeBron James, neither star got off to a hot start in Game 1. Instead, Lakers big man Anthony Davis continued making the case that he is finally returning to his bubble form, recording 30 points, 23 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks on just 19 shots from the field.
Warriors guards Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole stepped up in a big way in the first half, although Thompson faded offensively in the second. Poole had his best overall performance of the postseason, scoring 21 points on 15 shots with 6 assists and zero turnovers. Thompson finished the game 9-for-25 from the field with 25 points.
After an offensive explosion in a back-and-fourth first half, the Lakers began to build some distance in the third quarter. The Warriors made more than 40% of their three-point attempts in the first half while the Lakers did the bulk of their work in the paint and at the free-throw line. When Thompson cooled off in the third quarter, LA was able to pull ahead.
The Warriors trailed 96-88 heading into the fourth quarter and the Lakers expanded the lead to 14 by the halfway point. Golden State waited until that point to lean on Curry in the pick-and-roll, go small with Draymond Green at the five, and turn to a 3-2 zone defensively. All three adjustments paid immediate dividends, but it proved too little too late.
Golden State went on a 14-0 run to the tie the game with 90 seconds remaining at 112. D’Angelo Russell ended the Warriors run with a turnaround basket off the glass. James split a pair of free throws after an empty possession by the Warriors, putting the Lakers ahead 115-112 with 1:05 left in regulation. The Lakers forced the ball out of Curry’s hands in the final minute, and Poole missed a pair of shots that could have kept the Warriors' hopes alive.
Both coaching staffs will watch the second half of the fourth quarter closely. Davis disappeared offensively in the final six minutes. Was that function of the Dubs zone or simply tiring out after carrying the Lakers to that point will be a key question going forward?
While Warriors head coach Steve Kerr does not like to lean too heavily on Green at the five or Curry in the pick-and-roll, he might have to in this series unless players like Thompson, Poole, and Andrew Wiggins can take their performances to another level.
Neither team will have much time to rest up. The Warriors will host Game 2, which immediately becomes a must win at the Chase Center. Opening tip is scheduled with 6:00 PM Pacific.