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Warriors show they still have what it takes

China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-16 07:40

With Curry out, KD picks up slack against Spurs

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) dribble past San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) in the second quarter in game one of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena, April 14, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

OAKLAND, California - The Golden State Warriors had something to prove all right, and they plan to stay on top in these playoffs despite a disappointing finish to the regular season.

Kevin Durant helped the defending champions get defensive in a hurry, finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and the Warriors returned to their old dominant selves at playoff time to beat the cold-shooting San Antonio Spurs 113-92 on Saturday.

"We did not end the season on a high note, we kind of hobbled into the playoffs," said Klay Thompson.

"We know how talented we are. We know how good we are. We have been here before in the postseason and know what it takes to win."

And the Warriors still know how to win in impressive fashion on the NBA's big stage.

Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green took charge in Game 1 of the first-round series to elevate Golden State's intensity playing without fellow All-Star and injured two-time MVP Stephen Curry, sidelined since March 23 with a sprained left knee.

Thompson found his shooting touch and scored 27 points, making 11 of 13 shots, while 7-footer JaVale McGee started in Steve Kerr's center-by-committee approach and contributed 15 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes.

Green contributed 12 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Rudy Gay led the Spurs with 15 points off the bench as leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge was limited to 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting.

"The first quarter we looked like deer in the headlights," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

The Warriors looked unbeatable again. And that was without the do-everything Curry.

Golden State said all week it's a new season, then went out and showed it. The Warriors have plans for nothing short of a repeat title.

"We're a championship ball-club. We know what it takes this time a year to win," Green said.

"We're primed for this. A lot of people tend to forget what we're capable of. We know."

Golden State came with the kind of swarming defense it is so used to playing but hadn't exhibited much lately as rotations were mixed and matched because of injuries and illness.

San Antonio couldn't keep up from the opening tip.

"We were just very overly excited, overzealous," San Antonio's Danny Green said. "Overreacting to a lot of things because we are so excited that we're in the playoffs and playing, obviously, the best team in the world."

Beat up and missing its four All-Stars at times, Golden State endured a stretch losing seven of 10 last month.

The Warriors swept San Antonio in the Western Conference final a year ago on the way to a second championship in three seasons and an astonishing, record-setting 16-1 postseason run.

Kerr always said his team would be ready when these playoffs came around.

The Warriors were determined to pick up their defense, and they did just that.

Green, Durant and the others quickly closed on shooters and got hands up to alter shots.

2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala moved into the starting lineup for the 2018 edition of that "Strength In Numbers" mantra - and all those bright yellow T-shirts throughout the arena are there to back it.

Iguodala, who started just seven games all season before Saturday, had missed four of the final five regular-season games with a sore left knee.

Curry update

Curry, who Kerr ruled out for the entire first round, was re-examined on Friday and continues to make solid progress.

He will ramp up the intensity of his on-court rehab work this week with running and lateral movement as he did in recent days and is scheduled to be re-evaluated again in one week.

Curry worked through one-legged jumps on his injured knee during pregame warmups and did some shooting.

"When he's ready, he's ready... but he's making progress, which is a good sign," Kerr said.

Family affair

Kerr's son, Nick, is on the Spurs staff and the team jokingly voted him out of the film room on Friday for fear of him sharing Spurs secrets with the enemy.

"I let the team vote on whether they wanted him to stay in the room or not," Popovich said. "Truly, we did, we took a vote. It was a mock vote, but they all voted that he had to leave the room. I overruled them and so I let him stay, because he's wonderful and of course we trust him. But he did have dinner with his family last night, so we'll see."

Associated Press

 

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