Warriors flat in Monta's return, fall 120-98

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Warriors flat in Monta's return, fall 120-98

BOX SCORE
Bucks 120, Warriors 95Player of the game: Luc Mbah a Moute, making only his 15th start of the season, had his way with the Warriors on the interior. Mbah a Moute scored a career-high 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds.For the game, the Bucks outrebounded the Warriors 54-35.They destroyed us, Warriors coach Mark Jackson. They treated us like we were their little brothers. They dominated the paint, scored 120 points. You talk about 33 assists and they manhandled us on the boards. Any way you look to define being thoroughly outplayed and physically beaten up, we made a case for.
Key stretch: The game was won and lost late in the first quarter. With the Bucks holding an 18-12 run, they proceeded to finish the period on a 13-0 run to take a 19-point lead after a period. The Warriors made a marginal run in the second quarter, but the outcome was never in doubt.Ellis honored: Monta Ellis got a standing ovation when he was introduced with the Bucks starters. He was cheered throughout the game and was honored with a video tribute at the first timeout.Jackson took issue with the notion that his team might have been caught up in Ellis return.The mindset should be Hello. Good to see you. Congratulations. Now hit the deck and lets go. Im going to go at you Jackson said. Obviously that wasnt the mindset. We took all the punches and threw none. We didnt make the team we were playing against feel us and it was an embarrassing effort.Ellis under control: Former Warriors Monta Ellis played 38 minutes and shot just 6-for-15 from the field. But he was 6-for-6 from the line and was content to allow his teammates to contribute.Ekpe Udoh, who was also traded in the deal, went scoreless in 19 minutes but had four rebounds and a block.Awful start: Perhaps it was the Monta Ellis hangover, but the Warriors got off to a terrible start against the Bucks. The Warriors shot 25 percent in the first quarter and fell behind 31-12.Ellis played the entire first quarter and was selective with his shot selection. Ellis went 2-for-5 in the period from the field, but got to the line four times and converted all four.Bucks coach Scott Skiles had said before the game that if he sensed Ellis was overly excited or not playing his game that he might remove Ellis early and then bring him back minutes later.There was no need for Skiles to do that.Bogut introduced: Andrew Bogut was introduced to the media on Friday night before the game, and he said hes getting healthy and that hes making progress with his broken left ankle.Elbow is fine, Bogut said of last seasons elbow injury. I had a scope at the end of the season. I had played through a lot of pain, but I havent had any issues since. I have a scan in two weeks and it will let us know if that bone has settled down and fallen back into place. Its a delicate situation because if you come back too early from an injury, you might have to have another surgery. Well be real careful with it.

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

OAKLAND -- The Warriors studied video and practiced for nearly two hours Saturday, completing Phase 1 of the plan they’ll take into the NBA Finals.

Everybody on the roster is healthy, including starting center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a heel contusion, and seldom-used forward Kevon Looney, out for seven weeks with a hip strain.

“We had a great film session with the team, a great discussion with the team and put our keys up on the board for our guys and went over that stuff with them before practice,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice.

Defending Cavaliers star LeBron James surely was among the topics to generate considerable dialogue. It provides some relief that Andre Iguodala says he feels fine after battling knee soreness in the Western Conference Finals.

It was Iguodala, after all, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award after doing such a fine job as a primary defender of James in 2015. It’s an altogether different test now that the Cavs are healthy and have a surplus of shooters surrounding James.

“You still try to watch film, any new sets or anything that they try to implement for their team, because he’s the type of player that is so dynamic he can hurt you in different ways, especially with his passing ability,” Iguodala said.

When facing elite scorers, the Warriors typically vary their defensive looks. In addition to Iguodala, James will see some Kevin Durant, some Draymond Green and probably some Matt Barnes.

Nearly as important as Iguodala’s health is that of Pachulia. Though Cleveland is more willing to go small than in the past, there will be times when a big body, such as Pachulia, will be needed to keep Cavs big man Tristan Thompson off the glass.

Thompson had five of Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds last Christmas Day, when the Cavaliers came back for a 109-108 victory over the Warriors in Cleveland. The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by nine (60-51).

When the teams met three weeks later in Oakland, the Warriors pulled off a 126-91 rout largely on the strength of outrebounding Cleveland 58-35. Thompson had two offensive rebounds and five overall, while Pachulia gobbled up 13 rebounds -- 10 on the defensive glass.

The Cavs outscored the Warriors 17-8 in second-chance points in the first game, but the teams tied, 12-12, in that category in the rematch.

“It’s part of their strength,” Pachulia said. “Second-chance points are a killer. It’s something we have to take away. That’s one of the keys for us.”

 

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson spent nearly eight minutes Saturday answering a variety of questions, many of which were related to his diminished offense this postseason and his primary defensive assignment in the upcoming NBA Finals.

Mired in a shooting slump, by his standards, the Warriors guard now has to confront the fabulous offensive arsenal of Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

As much as Thompson would love to rediscover his shooting touch in Game 1 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the Warriors may be more delighted if he can prevent Irving from finding his.

“I take pride in (playing) both sides of the ball, defense as equally as offense,” Thompson said after practice at the team’s downtown facility. “Whether or not my shot falls, I can always control that part of the game.”

The Warriors are undefeated (12-0) this postseason despite Thompson averaging only 14.4 points (compared to 22.3 in the regular season) on 38.3-percent shooting from the field (46.8 in the regular season), 36.4 percent beyond the arc (41.4 in the regular season).

That spotless postseason record is, in part, a reflection of Thompson’s work on defense. In all three rounds, he has guarded the opponent’s most dangerous backcourt player.

“I couldn’t be happier with how he’s helped us win games,” acting head coach Mike Brown said.

Next up for Thompson is Irving, who has hit game-winning shots in each of the last two times Cleveland has beaten the Warriors, a 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2015 Finals and a midrange fadeaway jumper last Christmas Day at Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving has played well this postseason but lately has lifted his game to another level. In the five-game Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Irving averaged 25.8 points per game, while shooting 62.2 percent.

He was particularly dazzling as the Cavs finished off the Celtics in Games 4 and 5, averaging 33.0 points on 64.9-percent shooting.

Irving’s recent run prompted Cleveland teammate LeBron James to label him one of the best one-on-one players of all time, a compliment Brown did not argue.

“There are a lot of guys that can shoot the 3, but that’s all they can do,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can dribble drive and finish at the rim, but that’s all they can do. Here’s a guy that can shoot the 3 off the catch-and-shoot, he could shoot the 3 off the dribble. He has medium-game pull-up. He has medium-game floater. And then he can get to the rim. And when he gets to the rim, he can finish in traffic among 7-footers.

“The way he puts English on the ball, how high he gets it off the glass when he needs to, all those things play into a factor of why he is one of the greatest one-on-one players of all time.”

Thompson said Irving’s offense “easily” belongs in the discussion with the league’s best, a group including the likes of MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, as well as Thompson’s teammate, reigning MVP Stephen Curry.

“He’s done it in big moments, so you’ve got to give him credit,” Thompson said of Irving. “Not only have I seen him do it in the pros, but I’ve seen him do it with the USA Team, too. Kyrie’s a very tough guard. We’ve got a game plan for him, and it’ll be fun.”

Thompson said he will try to crowd Irving, contest every shot and not be outhustled. Still, he concedes that may not be enough.

There is, however, one other thing Thompson cited that could impact Irving’s offensive production. Make him work on defense, something both Warriors guards have the ability to do.

For Thompson, that means finding his stroke.

“I’d like to see the ball go in the basket,” he said. “It has, just not as frequently as I want. But that means nothing now. That’s in the past. It wouldn’t have mattered if I shot lights-out if we didn’t finish the job off.

“Now that we’re here, it’s a clean slate. It’s time to go. Can’t be worried about a few bad shooting games or the percentages when you went 12-0. You’ve just got to do what you can and have the intentions to win the game, not to go out there and score a number of points but to just go out there and win the game and make winning plays. That’s what I’m focused on.”