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Warriors hold off Spurs, advance to second round

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is fouled by San Antonio Spurs forward Lamarcus Aldridge (12) at the end of the second period as the San Antonio Spurs face the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

It took one game more than they may have been expecting, but the Warriors are moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

After sleeping through their alarms in San Antonio for Game 4, Golden State groggily awoke just enough to put the Spurs away, 99-91, in Game 5 Tuesday.

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

Klay Thompson was the lone player on either team that have any semblance of a good shooting game. He had 17 of his 24 before halftime and was the only player to have scored in double-figures at the break.

He finished shooting 11-of-22 for the game and 46-of-87 for the series, shooting 52.8 percent despite going just 4-of-16 in Game 4.

Thompson, like always, still wasn’t satisfied:

“I still took about three or four bad shots but other than that I got great looks. I feel like I could have had more points but that’s basketball, it’s not always going to go your way. And I look forward to doing that the rest of the playoffs, not trying to do too much.”

Draymond Green continued to show why “closeout Dray” is one of the most dominant players in the league. Green finished with 17 points, a playoff career-high 19 rebounds and seven assists all while playing top-notch defense. Over the last three years, Green is averaging 16.8 points, 11 boards, 6.8 assists, 0.8 blocks and 1.5 steals in the nine closeout games during the playoffs.

Kevin Durant didn’t have as good a game as his All-Star teammates. He didn’t reach double-figures until four minutes into the third quarter and continued to struggle from the outside as he’s gone just 6-of-27 from 3 his last three games.

In fact, the Warriors as a whole have struggled from deep over their last three games, shooting 31, 25 and finally 18 percent from behind the arc in those respective games.

Durant still pumped in his usual 25 points but he was ineffective for most of the game and seemed adamant to continue casting from deep as his first option. He didn’t attack the basket very often and when he wasn’t isoing, most plays ended with him standing on the outside, watching the play.

Durant said he’d be more concerned if he was struggling from midrange instead:

“I can easily just stop taking 3’s and just shoot when I’m open, but I just thought I tried to find it, I just tried to search for it, and I missed some. But I feel good shooting my midrange and I know my 3 will come around, it’s just a matter of time. I faded a bit on some, I rushed a few, I didn’t leave my follow through up on a couple, and they were doing a good job getting a hand up. So it was series of events for the reason I was missing some 3’s.”

It might have been fatigue or maybe even a tiny bit of the ankle soreness. Or it could have been that this game didn’t feel like a playoff game. Aside from a very lively crowd, this game felt like just another contest, especially in comparison to all the other series where there’s been some genuine hate, this series has been all love.

But Golden State’s defense was the deciding factor not just in the game but the series. They held the Spurs to just 38 points at halftime and had an 11-point lead even with their offense going through the Curry-less struggles. The Spurs managed to shoot just 37 percent from the field and 23 percent from 3.

Green said the team knows how to ramp up the defensive intensity come playoff time:

“We’re a championship team, we know what type of defense we need to play. Throughout the regular season you want to get there every night but it’s just not realistic, especially coming off a championship. The last game you played was like the peak level of intensity, the peak level of focus and then you come into the regular season and expect to start that over again it’s tough.”

Just paying attention to the offensive end of the court, it felt like the Warriors were digging themselves further and further into the ground, but then one look at the scoreboard showed a double-digit lead. LaMarcus Aldridge kept the game from falling into humiliating territory with 30 points and some timely buckets, but couldn’t push the Spurs over the top.

Now the story shifts to Stephen Curry and when he’s going to return. We know it’s going to be sometime next series and Kerr’s coy comments before the game saying he’s day-to-day has everyone thinking optimistic thoughts.

But it’s still a waiting game and Thompson and the rest of the team have to prepare for him missing games:

“I hope [he’s there for Game 1], but I’m not going to expect it because I don’t want to get my hopes up. If he doesn’t play we are prepared, if he does play, hallelujah. But we got to go into this week with the mindset he’s not playing because that’s what we have been doing this whole postseason and it’ll just make us better when he does come back.”

Up Next

After wrapping up their first-round series, the Warriors now move on to battle Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, who swept the third-seed Portland Trailblazers out of the playoffs. The second round will start Saturday, but the time of the game is still to be determined.

Notes

Klay Thompson hit 11 field goals Tuesday, making him just the third player in Franchise history to make over 600 career postseason field goals. The other two are Rick Barry with 699 and Stephen Curry with 652. … Kevin Durant also climbed history’s ladder by scoring 25 points. He leapfrogged both Paul Pierce and Kevin McHale for 19th place on the all-time playoff scoring list.


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.

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