OAKLAND – Jason Terry has been in the NBA forever, seemingly since Nixon resigned, surely long enough to know better than to call out a defending champion, particularly one coming home with something to prove.
The veteran guard guaranteed a victory, practically inviting a public spanking of his Houston Rockets. The Warriors picked up a paddle and happily obliged Wednesday night in front of about 20,000 giggling witnesses at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors' 114-81 rout of Houston allowed them to advance to the next round of the playoffs while bringing widespread satisfaction to the winning locker room. They won, and won big. They did it without star guard Stephen Curry, and they were willing to credit Terry for providing motivation.
“We’ve never heard anybody guarantee a win on our home court,” Warriors big man Marreese Speights said. “That kind of fueled our game. There’s no way we were going to get called out and lose at home.”
Draymond Green surely caught wind of Terry’s comment. The emotional leader of the Warriors, Green doesn’t need much to catch fire inside. He played as if a life were at stake, throwing generous portions of his game all over the stat sheet – 15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two blocked shots – and, as usual, pouring jet-fuel additive into everything the Warriors did.
“You saw all the comments the last couple days and everybody saying Steph goes down and the entire series changed,” Green said. “We thought otherwise. We wanted to come out here last dance from the jump. We made sure we put our effort in the game from the start. Not to let them get hope.”
The Warriors were up 17 (37-20) after a quarter and led by 22 (59-37) at the half. They bum-rushed the Rockets, and only James Harden, with 35 points in 37 minutes, didn’t get completely destroyed.
“We came out from the start and that’s something that has been key for us with our backs against the wall a little bit without Steph and the hoorah leading up to the game in the media,” center Andrew Bogut said. “It was motivation going into this and we tried to put them away early and we did.”
Steve Kerr and his coaching staff could not have scripted it any better, from the wicked defense to the sizzling shooting to the startling efficiency. The Warriors held Houston to 32.6-percent shooting while making 54.9 percent of their own shots. They had 30 assists and 10 turnovers, more than offsetting Houston’s 53-40 rebounding advantage.
“We don't have the margin for error that we have with Steph,” Kerr said. “We don't have the five or six 3s that he's going to make. So we have to take care of the ball, and we did that tonight beautifully.”
Most every member of the Warriors joined in the rout, with Klay Thompson crushing the Rockets with his scoring, totaling 27 points, on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, including 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. Shaun Livingston was marvelous, with expert floor generalship and remarkable 7-of-8 shooting.
The Warriors owned the game from start to finish, ousting Houston in five games for the second consecutive postseason.
This was enough to further bolster the confidence of a confident Warriors team. It barely matters that the Rockets, most of them anyway, were ready to bend over and be punished. The Warriors still needed to apply it, and do so without Curry, their most feared weapon.
“It definitely gives you more confidence, for sure because you know you can do it,” Green said. “You know the blueprint to doing it. So we know what we have to do when he's not out there. Hopefully when he comes back we can continue to do that.
“But while he's out, we’ve got the blueprint on what it takes to win when he's not out there, and we need to continue to follow that.”
They followed it exceedingly well in Game 5, resulting in astonishing success.
As for Jason Terry, well, his guarantee turned out not to be worth the breath he spent in issuing it. It never meant much, as the Warriors came into Game 5 at Oracle, where they are almost invincible, with a 3-1 series lead.
They took none of that for granted. The team that has been doubted so many times this season made yet another doubter slink away defeated and, in this case, bruised about the backside.