Playoff Draymond hoists Warriors past Jazz

One of the oldest sayings in basketball is that you can’t win a game in the first quarter. Just chalk that up as another basketball relic that the Golden State Warriors smashed, because they absolutely won this game in the first quarter.

They may have topped the Utah Jazz 115-104 in Game 2 Thursday, but it was over after the 33-15 first quarter shellacking.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Draymond Green continued his mutation into playoff Draymond, which may be the most imposing force on planet earth. Merge that with the known destroyer of worlds that is Green without Steve Kerr, and is there any shock he’s been this good?

It’s like combining every element to form Captain Planet, except with every one added he becomes an angrier, more aggressive, 3-point shooting beast.

He shot 4-of-5 from behind the arc in the first quarter alone and finished the game with 21 points on 5-of-8 very confident 3-pointers. For the playoffs he’s shooting a scorching 17-of-25 from distance, good for 52 percent, which leads the team. The person every team is trying to leave open has been the Warriors deadliest shooter.

And Green knows he’s the person opposing teams are trying to make shoot:

“Yeah, I feel particularly open in every game we play [laughs]. So, yeah, I do. And I’m pretty sure I’ll stay particularly open, that probably won’t change.”

Oh, and he’s also continuing his normal dynamic defense.

The Jazz made a little run in every quarter after the first to make the score deceivingly not-awful, but it never really felt close, even when they cut it to seven in the fourth. A big push from the “Hamptons Five” all but wrapped up the game.

Although as spectator it felt like an easy win, acting head coach Mike Brown had a different perspective:

“I’m going to switch seats with you next game, then you let me know that you thought that was easy. You know, it wasn’t easy, we felt it. But that was a tough game for us.”

Utah tried the unconventionally brilliant strategy of falling behind by a bunch until the Warriors lose interest and then capitalize when they get sloppy.

And it kind of worked.

After committing a franchise low seven turnovers last game, the Warriors exceeded that total before halftime.

They finished with 17 mostly unforced turnovers, which for sure didn’t help Steve Kerr recover from his injuries.

Stephen Curry, who was responsible for three of those turnovers, said he definitely expects to hear about the turnovers in the film room:

“There were probably five I can remember off the top of my head where we got too deep in the paint and tried to sling some pass across the court…Some of them were just a little careless. But the film will tell us that, and I’m sure Coach Brown and Coach Kerr will clip those up real nice for us tomorrow.”

But it could only get Utah so far as they turned it over a ton themselves — 14 times, to be exact.

The biggest scare came not from the Jazz but from Green, who after his Achilles-esque slaughtering of the Jazz, fell similar to the Greek hero as he was derailed by one small weak spot, which appeared to be his left hip. He had it worked on twice before in the game with what looked to be a cramp.

Then, in the fourth quarter, after an awkward fall he tried to get back to his feet only to stay on the ground for an extended period of time. The Warriors called it a left knee tweak, but it’s easy to guess it was just a symptom of that left hip.

Brown said the shock of it all was what scared him:

“A guy like Draymond does so much for us on both ends of the floor, and he very seldom goes down. So when he did, you think that initially it’s got to be serious. But I went over and asked him if he was all right, and right away he said yes.”

After Oracle and Brown held their collective breaths, Green returned to the court shortly after a quick trip to the locker room and seemed fine.

Will it be a lingering issue for Green next game? He doesn’t think so:

“I think I’ll be fine. I was able to catch it before it locked all the way up. One time it happened when I was in college, and I rebounded at Michigan a few days later, their whole team.”

Kevin Durant and Curry both played sidekick to Green on the court, but their stat lines were also hero-like. Durant finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Curry added 23 points with five 3-pointers and seven assists of his own.

Any other day, they would be the talk of the arena. But when you have some kind of mythical creature like Green walking the court with you, it’s kind of hard to compare.

Up Next

After getting a two-day break twice last series, the Warriors will play a more normal every other day against the Jazz. They’ll fly to Utah and pick up Game 3 Saturday.

Notes

With their win, the Warriors have now won a franchise record six straight games to open the playoffs. They broke the record of five straight wins held by the eventual NBA champion 2015 squad and the 1967 edition. … Andre Iguodala continued his ice-cold 3-point shooting in the playoffs and now hasn’t made a shot behind the arc in 18 attempts. … Steve Kerr will not make the trip to Utah and is still out indefinitely. The likelihood of him returning to the bench this postseason is dwindling by the day.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.