Warriors brief: Klay burns Spurs' game plan; tale of two halves for Draymond

Grant Liffmann
NBC Sports BayArea

The playoffs have finally begun and the Warriors went back to their old winning ways.

Let's take a look back at a few notes from Game 1 as we look ahead to Game 2 tonight.

Work hard, Klay hard

What should scare the Spurs most about their Game 1 loss is that they actually gave a reasonable defensive effort guarding Klay Thompson. It was clear the Spurs game plan out the gate was to restrict Klay's constant movement and deny him touches which proved to be rather effective, especially early on.

They held Klay to one field goal attempt in the first quarter with a rotation of Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray and Manu Ginboli among others, face guarding, holding, grabbing and playing defense on top of him. In the regular season, Klay averaged a usage rate of 23.7 percent. In Game 1 on Saturday, the Spurs held Klay to a usage rate of 18.6 percent, and that was mostly because the ball was hardly in Klay's hands.

The problem though -- in his limited touches, Klay made the most of them. Five of Klay's 11 field goal attempts were tightly contested, with Klay finishing four of them. The other seven shots were either open or wide open (he made six), the result of superior ball movement, the Warriors being in transition, or Spurs mistakes.

As Manu Ginobli said after the game: "We made a few mistakes that helped him to get off, but there are sometimes that he's shooting some ridiculous shots." Most players in the NBA let a defense off the hook when they make only a "few mistakes." Klay didn't. And that should scare the Spurs.

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The Warriors have to be very pleased to see Klay shooting with a confident stroke in the first game of the playoffs. It was just last season that he struggled with his shot through most of their 17 game playoff run to win the championship. On Saturday, Klay went 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Last season, Klay did not hit his fifth 3-pointer until the third game of the playoffs.

In his first 13 games of the playoffs last year, Klay shot 37 percent from the field and 34 percent from deep. To his credit however, in Games 2-5 of the Finals Klay shot 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range. It has only been one game so far, but it has to be a confidence booster to Klay and the Warriors.

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Last season Klay averaged 15 points per game and attempted only 14 field goals per game in the 17 games on the road to the championship. It was just one season removed from a stellar postseason performance from Klay, in which he scored over 24 points per game on an average of 19 shots, over a 24-game run that ended with a Cavaliers celebration.

The big difference between the two seasons: Kevin Durant. Being the third scoring option obviously contributed to lower scoring and shots, but with Steph Curry out for the beginning of the playoffs this season, the Warriors will look to Klay to revert back to his 2016 playoffs form.

Game 1 half full 

It was a tale of two halves for Draymond in the first game of the series. In nearly 19 first half minutes on Saturday, Draymond went 3 for 9 from the field including missing his three attempts from long range. His first half also included two assists against three turnovers, which was the result of some ill-advised passes and what looked like some potential playoff jitters.

The second half was a much different story, as Draymond went 2-for-3 from distance, while contributing nine assists without a turnover. Look for Draymond to build on his second half performance in Game 2.

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There was a lot of talk before the series of a potential Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge dual, however Game 1 did not contribute to the conversation. Draymond hardly guarded Aldridge throughout the game, instead letting JaVale McGee, David West and Kevon Looney take most of the duties.

Draymond played his free safety type role on defense, constantly switching and helping, staying engaged and involved guarding nearly every player on the court. If Aldridge were to go off and be more effective in the beginning of Game 2, look for Draymond to eventually be the primary defender on him.

Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter: @GrantLiffmann


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