OAKLAND — You know Klay Thompson is feeling it when he takes a three Stephen Curry might think was a little deep.
In a fast-paced, entertaining first half of an NBA Finals game, nobody was hotter than Thompson — he was 5-of-5 shooting, 4-of-4 from three on his way to 18 second quarter points. That shot above was just one of his highlights.
However, the Warriors seven second quarter turnovers undercut Thompson’s shooting. So did LeBron James (25 first half points) and Kyrie Irving (18 points on 8-of-10 shooting) being hot as well. It was 61-61 at the half.
OAKLAND — Damn.
Shaun Livingston ladies and gentlemen.
The veteran got an open lane to the rim and when Richard Jefferson recognized what was happening and rotated over it was too late, he was in a poster. Apparently Livingston still has hops.
The quality of play in the WNBA is really impressive.
The players are skilled, but more than that they tend to play better team ball than can be found in the NBA many nights. People that know basketball know it’s a good product.
People such as LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul — they all express their admiration for the league in this new spot.
OAKLAND — Steve Kerr went with the head fake.
On the starting roster turned in and put up on the stats board in Oracle Arena, James Michael McAdoo was listed as the starter. But just a couple of minutes later, the Warriors PR department announced that in reality Andre Iguodala was going to get the start.
With Draymond Green suspended for an accumulation of technicals – capped by contact below the belt with LeBron James in Game 4 — Steve Kerr has been compelled to juggle lineups for Game 5. He’s been forced to do that right out of the gate and start the one guy on their bench that comes closest to approximating Green’s diverse skill set.
Expect Iguodala to be on LeBron James from the opening tip.
Also, expect some unusual lineup combinations from the Warriors, ones that saw little court time together the past couple seasons.
“Yeah, we looked at some of (those lightly used combinations),” Kerr said before Game 5. “Sammy Gelfand, our analytics guy, looked at some of the combinations. But we have a pretty good feel of which players work well with others and that sort of thing, which combinations work.
“So we have an idea of what we’ll do tonight, but that always changes depending on the flow of the game and foul trouble and all of that. So we’ll see how it goes.”
Expect to see a fair amount of McAdoo, Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli and others off the bench. If the starting lineup doesn’t work, expect a quick change by Kerr.
The rest of the Warriors starting lineup remains the same — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut.
With Green out, Cavaliers head coach is going back to his regular starting lineup with Kevin Love out at the opening tip. Love struggles when the Warriors go small, but there will be less of that in Game 5 with Green out.
The Warriors are up 3-1 in the series and are using the suspension of Green as motivation to close the series out Monday night.
OAKLAND — Golden State earned their 73 regular season wins, and their 15 through the playoffs that has them on the doorstep of back-to-back NBA titles. But there were plenty of nights through the NBA season when they didn’t bring their “A” game, and counted on a red-hot Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson in the second half to bail them out. They are a team that can lose its focus when comfortable.
The suspension of Draymond Green for an accumulation of technicals – capped by contact below the belt with LeBron James — ended any chance of that happening up 3-1 in the NBA Finals. The Warriors have turned that into fuel — they feel the Cavaliers lobbied and pressured the league to suspend Green because they can’t beat the Warriors on the court.
“I think what we’ve learned the last couple of years is that we’re a team that sometimes lets down when things are going well, but we’re also a team that has responded every single time we’ve been faced with adversity in the Playoffs the last two years. Never more so than the Oklahoma City series…” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said pregame.
“I mean, I’d be disappointed if we had to worry about that anyway. It’s a close-out game in the NBA Finals. Who can’t be ready for that? But, yeah, we’re definitely ready to roll. And if there was any edge missing, it’s definitely there now.”
For the Cavaliers part, the motivation is obvious — win or you fall a step short of your goal for a second straight season. Tyronn Lue wasn’t concerned about what motivated Golden State.
“I don’t care about Golden State. I mean, we’ve got a fire lit too. We’re down 3-1,” Lue said. “So, I mean, that’s the decision the league made, and it’s unfortunate on a big stage like this, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to win the game. We’ve got to come out and play and take the game.
“With Draymond being out, it hurts them defensively, but we’ve still got to come and play. So that has no bearing on the game. We’ve got to be ready to play.”
The pattern has been the Warriors staying afloat during Cavaliers early runs, then coming back to win the game. The tables on that scenario might flip — there could be a motivated Warriors team making an early push in Game 5. The question is how the Cavaliers respond.