New Orleans doesn’t play anywhere near the defense the Spurs do and, in Saturday’s Game 1 at Oracle Arena, they tried to play with the Warriors pace on offense.
That leads to a higher-paced, more entertaining game for the fans. It also led to a full quarter of garbage time in a 123-101 Golden State blowout.
When you combine bad defense and fast offense it gives the Warriors more opportunities, and when you give the Warriors more opportunities you find yourself in a 30-point hole real quick.
Draymond Green led the Warriors in every way — aside from scoring, of course. He would still finish with 16 points but also with 15 boards, 11 assists, three steals and two blocks, and had his triple-double just a few minutes into the third quarter.
Kevin Durant said when Green is flying around and hustling it brings energy to the whole building:
“Once he does it, you can just hear the crowd just roaring and it’s almost like when Steph get a wide open three, you hear the crowd about to explode. Same thing happens when Draymond hustles out-of-bounds, get a block and does a great job and get a steal, the crowd enjoys that and I think we feed off our crowd. He was great tonight.”
He also played like a beast on defense, although much of it was in help-side on Anthony Davis.
Instead, the Warriors cross-matched like crazy, first putting him on Davis but then on Rajon Rondo, which meant he was actually on nobody and roamed the paint with the speed and ferocity of the Tasmanian Devil. Just a whirling cyclone of hands, sucking up whatever was near him.
Head coach Steve Kerr said it is key to keep Green in the middle of the action on the floor:
“You know how Draymond is. He wants to be in the fray and he wants to be in the middle of the floor. Middle of the action, I should say. We’re going to put him on people that are going to be in the middle of the action and probably not guys who are spotting up and shooting, so that he can make an impact.”
Rondo couldn’t make the Warriors pay as he went just 4-of-10 from the field and 0-of-2 from deep, and was egged on by the Oracle crowd to shoot it anytime he touched the ball.
Klay Thompson did make New Orleans pay, leading the Warriors with 27 on four 3-pointers and was unconscious in the second quarter when they outscored the Pelicans 41-21 and essentially ended the game.
Kerr said that second quarter he just sat back and enjoyed:
“How could I not enjoy that? That was an amazing run, 12 minutes, combination of offense and defense, I think we had one turnover in the whole quarter and 10 assists, and the ball was moving and it all started with our defense, and Draymond is always in the center of our defensive effort.”
He was joined by Durant who finished with 26 points while pulling in 13 rebounds.
He also drew the Davis matchup at times and did his best to hold him to 21 points on 9-of-20 shooting. And while those numbers look good in a vacuum, it was an empty total and he had little impact on the game. Also, this is the same Anthony Davis that didn’t score fewer than 22 in averaging 33 per game helping the Pels sweep the Trailblazers in round one.
A lot of that was Durant but Kevon Looney also played out of his mind defensively, while still playing smart. And couple that with Green roaming the key to stop any time Davis did get an advantage and it was a rough night for the Pelican star.
Durant said it was actually a play by Looney that sparked the big run in the second quarter:
“Loon blocked the shot, blocked Rondo’s shot and that kind of got us going. He played great tonight. I think that was the turning point for us when he got that shot at the rim. That just gave us some energy and got our crowd into it, as well and we was able to string together some stops and get out on a run.”
But it was all according to plan for the Warriors — and with a the return of a certain MVP right around the corner, it might be a rough four-game series for the entire Pelicans roster.
After getting a beat down laid on them the Pelicans have a day to regroup as Game 2 will be Tuesday night — when a certain point guard may be back in uniform.
Green recorded his fourth career playoff triple-double and passed Tom Gola for the most in franchise history. … The Warriors 76 point first half total was the highest scoring playoff half in franchise history. And their 41 second quarter points was the highest scoring quarter in franchise history as well.