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The Golden State Warriors had something to prove all right:
Oh yes ,
they plan to stay on top in these playoffs despite a disappointing finish to the
regular season.

Kevin Durant helped the defending champions get defensive in a hurry,
finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and the Warriors
returned to their old dominant selves at playoff time to beat the cold-shooting
San Antonio Spurs 113-92 on Saturday.

”Absolutely,” Klay Thompson said about playing a memorable, statement-making
Game 1. ”We did not end the season on a high note, we kind of hobbled into the
playoffs. We know how talented we are. We know how good we are. We have been
here before in the postseason and know what it takes to win.”

And they still know how to win in impressive fashion on the NBA’s big

Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green took charge in Game 1 of the first-round
series to elevate the Warriors’ intensity at last playing without fellow
All-Star and injured two-time MVP Stephen Curry, sidelined since March 23 with a
sprained left knee.

Thompson found his shooting touch and scored 27 points, making 11 of 13
shots, while 7-footer JaVale McGee started in Steve Kerr’s center-by-committee
approach and contributed 15 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 16
minutes. Green contributed 12 points ,
11 assists and eight rebounds.

Rudy Gay led the Spurs with 15 points off the bench as leading scorer
LaMarcus Aldridge was limited to 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting.

”The first quarter we looked like deer in the headlights,” Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors looked unbeatable again. And that was without the do-everything

Golden State said all week it’s a new season, then went out and showed it.
The Warriors have plans for nothing short of a repeat title.

”We’re a championship ballclub. We know what it takes this time a year to
win,” Green said. ”… We’re primed for this. A lot of people tend to forget what
we’re capable of. We know.”

Golden State came with the kind of swarming defense it is so used to playing
but hadn’t exhibited much lately as rotations were mixed and matched because of
injuries and illness.

San Antonio couldn’t keep up from the opening tip.

”We were just very overly excited, overzealous,” San Antonio’s Danny Green
said. ”Overreacting to a lot of things because we are so excited that we’re in
the playoffs and playing, obviously, the best team in the world.”

Beat up and missing its four All-Stars at times, Golden State endured a
stretch losing seven of 10 last month.

Golden State swept San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals a year ago on
the way to a second championship in three seasons and an astonishing,
record-setting 16-1 postseason run.

Kerr always said his team would be ready when these playoffs came around.

The Warriors were determined to pick up their defense, and they did just

Green Cody
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, Durant and the others quickly closed on shooters
and got hands up to alter shots.

2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala moved into the starting lineup for the 2018
edition of that ”Strength In Numbers” mantra – and all those bright yellow
T-shirts through the arena are there to back it.

Iguodala, who started just seven games all season before Saturday, had missed
four of the final five regular-season games with a sore left knee.

Kerr went with his best defensive unit.

”I thought it was important to re-establish our defense, one way or another,
win or lose,” Kerr said. ”That’s the reason this is a championship team. It’s
the defense that has been the key for this team for years.”


Spurs: The Spurs, still without injured star Kawhi Leonard, never led and
shot 40 percent. … San Antonio visited Golden State for the third time in as
many months. They lost at Oracle on Feb. 10 and March 8.

Warriors: The Warriors had 32 assists on 44 field goals, 23 of those assists
on 33 made baskets through the third. … Golden State is 6-2 vs. the Spurs in the
postseason at home. … The Warriors have won six straight playoff openers.


Curry, who Kerr ruled out for the entire first round, was re-examined Friday
and continues to make solid progress. He will ramp up the intensity of his
on-court rehab work this week with running and lateral movement as he did in
recent days and is scheduled to be re-evaluated again in one week.

He worked through one-legged jumps onto his injured knee during pregame
warmups and got in some shooting.

”When he’s ready Nick
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, he’s ready but he’s making progress, which is a
good sign,” Kerr said.


Kerr’s son, Nick, is on the Spurs staff and the team jokingly voted him out
of the film room Friday for fear of him sharing Spurs secrets with the

”I let the team vote on whether they wanted him to stay in the room or not,”
Popovich said. ”Truly, we did, we took a vote. It was a mock vote but they all
voted that he had to leave the room. I overruled them and so I let him stay,
because he’s wonderful and of course we trust him. But he did have dinner with
his family last night, so we’ll see.”

Every round of the NFL draft will air on network television next month for
the first time as Fox will simulcast the NFL Network's coverage of Days 1 and 2
and ESPN's coverage of Day 3 will be shown on ABC.

ESPN's "College GameDay" will air live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington,
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, on April 26-27. It is previewing the first two days
of the draft as part of the network's college football-themed coverage of the
first round on ESPN2. Analyst Kirk Herbstreit will be part of ESPN's first-round
coverage, replacing Jon Gruden.

The first round of the draft airs in prime time on April 26. Rounds 2 and 3
are held April 27. The draft concludes with Rounds 4 through 7 on April 28.

Fox analysts will be part of the NFL Network's draft coverage for the first
time, including Troy Aikman in Round 1, working with NFL Network's Rich Eisen,
Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah, and Stanford football coach David Shaw. FOX
college football analyst Joel Klatt will be part of the coverage of Rounds 1
through 3.

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