Warriors Shake Off Their Late-Season Stumbles and Thrash the Spurs in Game 1

Warriors Shake Off Their Late-Season Stumbles and Thrash the Spurs in Game 1

Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who scored 24 points, making a move on Spurs guard Bryn Forbes in their playoff game on Saturday.
Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The Golden State Warriors had something to prove all right: Oh yes, they plan to stay on top in these N.B.A. playoffs despite a disappointing finish to the regular season.

Kevin Durant helped the defending champions get defensive in a hurry, finishing with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 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 in Oakland, Calif.

“Absolutely,” Klay Thompson said about playing a memorable, statement-making Game 1. “We did not end the season on a high note. We kind of hobbled into the playoffs. 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 they still know how to win in impressive fashion on the N.B.A.’s big stage.

Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green took charge in Game 1 of the first-round series to elevate the Warriors’ intensity at last playing without their fellow All-Star and injured two-time most valuable player Stephen Curry, who has been sidelined since March 23 with a sprained left knee.

Thompson found his shooting touch and scored 27 points, making 11 of 13 shots, while the 7-footer JaVale McGee started in Steve Kerr’s center-by-committee approach and contributed 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in 16 minutes. Green contributed 12 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds.

Rudy Gay led the Spurs with 15 points off the bench. 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.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night here at Oracle Arena.

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

Golden State said all week that it was 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,” Green said. “We know what it takes this time a year to win.”

He added: “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 last month in which it lost seven of 10.

Golden State swept San Antonio in the Western Conference finals 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.

The M.V.P. of the 2015 finals, Andre Iguodala, moved into the starting lineup for the 2018 edition of that “Strength in Numbers” mantra — and all those bright yellow T-shirts through the arena were 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.

Kerr went with his best defensive unit.

“I thought it was important to re-establish our defense, one way or another, win or lose,” Kerr said. “That’s the reason this is a championship team. It’s the defense that has been the key for this team for years.”

76ers 130, Heat 103

Ben Simmons had 17 points, 14 assists and 9 rebounds in his playoff debut, and Philadelphia romped again without Joel Embiid, beating visiting Miami for a 17th straight victory.

Ben Simmons dunking in the first half.
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Embiid, the Sixers’ All-Star center, was a spectator in Game 1 of the first-round Eastern Conference series because of a broken orbital bone around his left eye. He has said he is hoping he can return early in the series. The Sixers could end this one early with Embiid back in the lineup.

Simmons dished and dazzled in the lane, and the Heat had no answer for the Sixers reserves Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Belinelli and Ilyasova combined to hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter that helped shift the tone from physical and foul-filled to a long-distance game that allowed the Sixers to put it away. They used a 15-0 run in the third quarter to get the rout rolling in their first postseason game in five seasons under Coach Brett Brown.

Brown won 47 games his first three seasons as the Sixers underwent the Process — and 52, plus Game 1, this season.

“I feel this group has something special in it,” Brown said.

J J Redick scored 28 points to lead the Sixers, who will host Game 2 on Monday. Belinelli had 25 and Ilyasova 17.

For a half, the Heat got what they needed against one of the N.B.A.’s toughest teams, and James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk helped them take a 60-56 lead at the break. Olynyk led the Heat with 26 points.

But the Heat shot 26 percent in the third and were outscored, 34-18.

Simmons assisted on Ilyasova’s 3-pointer and then hit a jumper for a 66-63 Philadelphia lead. Dario Saric, for whom the Sixers waited two years while he played overseas, also buried a 3 with an assist from Simmons. Simmons made a statue out of Olynyk, crossing him up and breaking through for a two-handed slam.

Raptors 114, Wizards 106

Raptors 114, Wizards 106 Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Delon Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and host Toronto ended a streak of 10 losses in playoff series openers, beating its Eastern Conference rival Washington.

DeMar DeRozan added 17 points, C. J. Miles and O G Anunoby each had 12, and Kyle Lowry had 11 points and 9 assists for the Raptors, whose only previous victory in the opening game of a playoff series came in the second round against Philadelphia in 2001.

Toronto entered having lost an N.B.A.-worst 10 consecutive Game 1s since then, including six at home.

“It’s out of the way now,” DeRozan said of the streak. “Worry about Game 2.”

The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, Toronto made 16 of 30 3-point attempts, with Miles making four and Ibaka and Wright each hitting three.

The Raptors will host Game 2 on Tuesday.

John Wall had 23 points and 15 assists for the Wizards, while Markieff Morris had 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Bradley Beal scored 19 points for Washington, while Mike Scott had 14 and Marcin Gortat scored 12.

Washington was leading, 91-88, when Scott was called for a flagrant foul after using his elbow to knock Lowry down early in the fourth quarter. Lowry made both free throws, and on the ensuing possession, Wright gave Toronto the lead with a layup. After a missed shot by Morris, Miles hit a 3-pointer, capping a 7-0 run that gave the Raptors a 95-91 lead with 9 minutes 26 seconds left.

Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3, and Gortat made a dunk, putting Washington back in front, but Wright and Miles each hit 3-pointers as Toronto used an 8-0 run to take a 103-96 lead with 6:27 left and never trailed again.

Pelicans 97, Trail Blazers 95

Anthony Davis had 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 97-95, in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Jrue Holiday added 21 points, outplaying both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and had a big blocked shot in the closing seconds as New Orleans held on after Portland erased almost all of a 19-point deficit.

Rajon Rondo finished with 17 assists, eight rebounds and six points as New Orleans won the backcourt battle on top of Davis dominating the interior.

Lillard finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while McCollum had 19 points.

The sixth-seeded Pelicans were the only road team to win on the opening day of the N.B.A. playoffs. Nikola Mirotic had 16 points, 11 rebounds and also blocked four shots to help Davis earn the first playoff victory of his career.

Correction: April 14, 2018

An earlier version of this article, which included reporting from Agence France-Presse, incorrectly described Toronto’s losing streak in playoff openers. The Raptors had lost 10 consecutive opening playoff games, not nine, and Saturday’s win was not their first in a playoff opener. The error was repeated in an article summary.

Published at Sun, 15 Apr 2018 07:45:15 +0000

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