Spurs no match for resolute Warriors

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) takes on San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes in the first round of the play-offs. The Warriors routed their opponents 113-92.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) takes on San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes in the first round of the play-offs. The Warriors routed their opponents 113-92.PHOTO: REUTERS

Decisive win shows Golden State can recover elusive form while eyeing back-to back titles

SAN FRANCISCO • On the first day of the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs, Draymond Green signalled the Golden State Warriors' intent to be around for the last.

"We're a championship ballclub," the forward said after the reigning champions routed the San Antonio Spurs 113-92 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series, despite missing All-Star Stephen Curry.

"We know what it takes this time of year in order to win. You know, we want to get back to that, regardless of what everyone is saying. 'The Warriors have lost it. They are not together. They can't win without Steph. They are not the same team. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah'."

The Warriors struggled down the stretch of the regular season and finished with only the third-best record in the league behind Western Conference leaders Houston Rockets and Eastern Conference pacesetters Toronto Raptors.

But at the Oracle Arena on Saturday, they showed that a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals cannot be ruled out.

Klay Thompson scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, and Kevin Durant added 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to power Golden State.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE US

We're a championship ballclub. We know what it takes this time of year in order to win. You know, we want to get back to that, regardless of what everyone is saying.

DRAYMOND GREEN, highlighting the Warriors' determination to raise their standard in the play-offs.

WE WERE OVERWHELMED

We looked like a deer in the headlights. I thought we were prepared mentally and physically, but I was mistaken.

GREGG POPOVICH, San Antonio coach, after the loss to the defending champions.

"Everybody kept our individual games on point," Durant said.

"At the end of the season, our minds weren't on it. They were on the play-offs. Today, they were on the present."

The Warriors certainly regained their defensive intensity with an unorthodox starting line-up that included JaVale McGee at centre and Andre Iguodala at point guard.

The duo had previously combined for only 24 starts this campaign. But they were crucial to the Warriors defusing San Antonio's inside game. The visitors, who averaged 43.8 points in the paint this season, were limited to 22 points in that area.

Spurs stars LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 14 points and two rebounds despite averaging 23.1 points per game this term as San Antonio shot just 40 per cent from the field and were outrebounded 51-30.

"Just wanted to put our best defensive line-up on the floor from the beginning," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "The whole point of these games here early in this series is to re-establish our defence."

McGee scored 15 points and played aggressive defence while Green had 12 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Reserve Rudy Gay led the Spurs with 15 points.

"We looked like a deer in the headlights," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought we were prepared mentally and physically, but I was mistaken."

The Warriors also gave an update on star guard Curry's left knee sprain before playing, saying he was making progress and would be assessed next Saturday.

Curry, who missed Golden State's last 10 regular-season contests after the March 23 setback, will intensify his rehabilitation work in the next few days with more running and lateral movement, the team said in a statement.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2018, with the headline 'Spurs no match for resolute Warriors'. Print Edition | Subscribe