Since Steve Kerr took over two seasons ago, the Golden State Warriors have been the remedy for NBA fans sick of hero-ball.
During Game 1 on Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder — a team often maligned for giving the ball to its best players and making spectators out of the others on the floor — appeared to steal the Dubs’ playbook in the second half.
OKC moved the ball around the court, finding the open man and making the easy play to exploit holes in the Golden State defense.
Meanwhile, the W’s struggled to score because they were rushing shots and getting away from what they did so well all season.
Kerr is determined to fix that.
“We had individual possessions that looked good, but we didn’t really ever get to a stretch where we had four, five, six possessions in a row where the ball’s moving and we were playing our style,” Kerr said at practice Tuesday. “This is obviously a really good defensive team we’re playing against. They’ve got length and athleticism, and in a lot of cases they force you into kind of iso ball. … They deserve credit, but we’ve got to be able to counter that and play more our style.”
The Thunder’s rotation relies on several big men, the opposite of Golden State’s small-ball revolution. OKC succeeded in making its size advantage play a large role in the series opener.
The Thunder’s length disrupted passing lanes and made the floor feel smaller for a team that requires wide-open action.
Regardless, the Warriors will stand by their small-ball lineup.
“I think our small lineup can be effective. It’s been effective all year,” said Draymond Green, who serves as the defensive lynchpin when he plays an undersized center. “… We’ve just got to play our brand of basketball.”
The Warriors made one thing certain: The result of Game 1 will not dictate their strategy for the rest of the series. They’re going to continue to play small, push the pace and expect their stars to outplay Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“We’ve been through this,” Kerr said. “We haven’t lost a Game 1, but last year we lost two home games, three home games, I think in the playoffs, maybe two. … We’ve been through this. So we know where we are. We know what we have to do.”