Kevin Durant’s Absence Showing Again Warriors Are Built to Defy Adversity

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

OAKLAND, Calif. — Klay Thompson had 41 career blocks in 65 career playoff games for a Golden State Warriors entrance into Wednesday night’s Game 2 opposite a Portland Trail Blazers. Far from a ostentatious numbers you’d see from a edge guardian planted in a paint, sure. It’s usually that, chances are, you’re not going to travel out of any Warriors diversion with a repeating picture of a torpedo Thompson rejecting cascading by your mind.

Not so during Golden State’s 110-81 dismantling here to take a autocratic 2-0 array lead. As a Warriors were capping off a super-stingy third entertain wherein a Blazers could usually pattern 12 points and a diversion was put over any rival reach, a Warriors 2-guard pulled off a method of events that crossed a Thompson spectrum, from a intolerable (a point-of-release retard during a rim) to a hackneyed (a high-arching, catch-and-shoot transition three).

“That did feel good,” Thompson pronounced of a block, “and hopefully we get to do it again.”

From finish to end, a pitch from invulnerability to offense hardly compulsory 10 seconds of diversion clock, though it was good demonstrative of how a Warriors had answered a call of Kevin Durant‘s absence.

“We had some dry spots,” pronounced Stephen Curry, who usually scored 19 points on 18 shots, “but we won a diversion with a invulnerability tonight.”

At aspect level, it would seem startling that losing Durant—he was ruled out a integrate of hours before a burst with a stretched left calf muscle—would offer as a predecessor to a defensive hospital Golden State put on during Oracle Arena. He’s their best edge protector, and his participation allows Draymond Green to slip adult to core when a “Death Lineup” comes calling. His spindly arms can make any try during interior flitting feel like a ridiculous endeavor.

But a humorous thing happened while Durant was laid adult with a sprained left knee for five-and-a-half weeks after a All-Star break: The Warriors confirmed their defensive intensity. Even accounting for some smash in their strength of schedule, Golden State was noticeably improved on invulnerability for the 19 games Durant was out than for the games that preceded his injury.

That they didn’t regression though got better in that area exemplifies how this group is built for a prolonged haul.

Even though argent performances from their long-range gunners, even though a loyal backup indicate ensure in Shaun Livingston (out with a sprained finger), a Warriors had adequate reinforcements to not usually post another feat though also do so convincingly.

Noah Graham/Getty Images

Patrick McCaw stepped into Durant’s starting role, and a rookie was all Warriors manager Steve Kerr could’ve hoped for. As Portland done a pierce in a second quarter, McCaw emptied a 27-footer to give his group a four-point lead.

After JaVale McGee’s and-1 about 30 seconds after pushed a lead to seven, a Blazers never again drew that close, and a subjection was on.

“The thing that we favourite was a fact that he was unafraid,” Kerr pronounced of McCaw, who finished with 9 points, 5 play and no turnovers. “He’s a rookie. He hardly played in Game 1, and [when] KD comes behind he’s substantially not going to play a whole lot. But a fact that he stayed prepared, stayed prepared and unequivocally shielded well, we suspicion his invulnerability was excellent. We asked him to ensure [Damian] Lillard and [CJ] McCollum a small bit, and he did a unequivocally good job.”

Indeed, after mixing for 75 points in a some-more rival Game 1 loss, a Blazers’ high-octane backcourt could hardly pattern a wisp of a flame, scoring usually 23 points on 34 shot attempts.

That’s on McCaw. That’s on Green, who had 12 play and 3 blocks. And that’s on Thompson, whose aforementioned hit on Lillard was this night’s unaccepted endpoint, a 15 mins of diversion nonetheless to be played a small formality.

“We substantially did a good pursuit tonight removing a turn out of their hands more,” Thompson pronounced of shutting down Portland’s manly duo. “We done adjustments from final game.”

The Warriors have a four-time scoring champion out with a potentially whinging injury, nonetheless they sojourn calm and adaptable.

Noah Graham/Getty Images

It took them a few games, though they didn’t let Durant’s progressing deficiency sidetrack their season. They went behind to basis on offense and defense. More pick-and-rolls during one end, improved positional recognition on rebounds during a other. There are no switches to flip with this group since each dialect is already humming along.

McCaw many personified that. Slotted into starting his initial career playoff game, he done a large impact from a get-go.

“Pat’s one of those guys where he doesn’t uncover that he’s overly confident, since he’ll never contend anything,” Green said, “but he’s one of those guys that we don’t have to teach certainty in. You feel like, Oh, it’s a NBA. I’m here. we should be here, and we wish to do what we do.”

That confident, assertive play was all for McCaw—”I don’t consider Portland was awaiting that entrance from me,” he said—and that’s turn living for this Warriors team. Without Durant or Livingston or Matt Barnes (ankle), Golden State never seemed like it was shorthanded. Six opposite Warriors available during slightest one blocked shot.

Even a 6’7″ McCaw got in on that party, swatting (who else?) Lillard in a center of that third-quarter smackdown.

A few mins later, Thompson followed with his possess rejection, and a Blazers’ predestine was effectively sealed.

Kerr was neutral after a diversion about Durant’s standing for Game 3 though conceded that carrying a 2-0 lead relieves some clarity of coercion from creation that call. The Warriors competence do good to give Durant games off until they remove one of these nights, definition he competence lay out until May and rest adult for possibly Los Angeles or Utah.

Kerr likes to evangelise about how a Warriors are a group whose success starts on defense, that they’re so fatal during scoring mostly since they set a tinge underneath a other basket.

This Game 2 drubbing of Portland might have represented a platonic ideal of that philosophy. Unless a Blazers oppose a accuracy—and fast—the Warriors will continue their indomitable impetus to a subsequent turn and beyond.

 

Erik Malinowski covers a Warriors for B/R. His bookBetaball: How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of a Greatest Basketball Teams in History, will be published in October. Follow him on Twitter: @erikmal.


Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail stories@tutuz.com