OAKLAND – With Dub Nation anxiety suddenly soaring to mentally unhealthy levels, the Warriors on Tuesday responded to their Game 1 loss at Oracle Arena by immersing themselves in the familiar.
Video study. Light practice. Routine preparation. And, of course, Stephen Curry burying 3-pointers from the usual locations on Curry Court.
Though Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City is a game of tremendous consequence – it’s not a “must-win” game – there is no sign of panic among the Warriors.
“Generally, we did a lot of things that were fine,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I just didn’t think we ever really executed well, to the point where we looked like ourselves. We had individual possessions that looked good, but we didn’t really ever get to a stretch where we had four or five or six possessions in a row where the ball was moving and we were playing our style.”
The Warriors looked fairly familiar in the first half of Game 1. They shot 51.1 percent to OKC’s 45.5. They were credited with 18 assists on 24 buckets. They trounced the Thunder 22-7 in fast-break points.
Then came the second half, when the Warriors, facing an OKC team appreciably different from that which they swept in three games in the regular season, collapsed in a way championship teams rarely do – especially at home.
“They’re a pretty good defensive team,” Draymond Green said. “They have a lot of length, so if you’re setting up against their half-court defense every time it makes things a lot tougher to get into a flow. That was one of our problems. We didn’t have any rhythm to our offense.”
Kevin Durant, nearly 7 feet of arms and hands, is an underrated defender and he played every minute of the second half. Forward Serge Ibaka, at 6-10, as a superior shot-blocker, bringing more arms and hands. Guard Andre Roberson, at 6-7, specializes in defense.
And then there are the two big men, 7-foot Steven Adams is a solid defender and though Enes Kanter is not, he’s still 6-11.
The Thunder’s second-half performance – particularly on defense – was as much of a factor as the Warriors failure to perform.
“Right now, they’re a completely different team than the team that we faced in February,” Green said. “So it makes a difference.
“We’ve had our game to adjust. Now it’s up to us to make the adjustment.”
Kerr’s goal to have his team rely more on movement really is the most logical way to attack a team of such length and athleticism. The Warriors lost their way over the final 24 minutes of Game 1. Klay Thompson and Curry combined to shoot 33 percent over the final two quarters.
When Oklahoma City locked down, the Warriors showed signs of frustration. They began to hurry, which invited recklessness.
They believe they’ll get back to the identity that helped them go 73-9, and they are nothing if not eager for the chance.
“I saw Steph after the game,” Green said. “And he smiled and said ‘We ain’t been here before.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know. I like this. This will be fun.’
“Because when you can bounce back from something like this, it makes it all the more sweeter. I’m relishing this opportunity. This is where you see what you’re really made of. This is where you bounce back and everybody is against and don’t think you can do it and. . . . This is where it gets fun for us.”