Kerr says defensive focus inspired Warriors against Spurs
The Golden State Warriors have jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, and head coach Steve Kerr gave much of the credit to the team's defense.
Reigning NBA champions Golden State allowed the Spurs to score just 92 points in a 113-92 victory on Saturday, which was the best defensive performance the Warriors have had since they gave up 92 to the Indiana Pacers March 27.
One reason for the success can be placed on a line-up change Kerr made for the game.
He started 34-year-old guard Andre Iguodala for the first time since March 19. Kerr told reporters after the game this was a move based completely on defense.
"Just wanted to put our best defensive line-up on the floor from the beginning," he said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "I think the whole point of these games here early on in this series is to re-establish our defense.
"I think you guys know over the last month or so our defense has been sub-par, so you can't win in this league in the playoffs unless you defend and we defended tonight."
The move surprised the Spurs as well, though veteran Manu Ginobili would not say it affected their game plan.
"We were expecting Cook to start," he told reporters. "But it's not like it changed that much. The bottom line is that they played much better than us."
With the insertion of Iguodala into the starting line-up along with JaVale McGee, the Warriors were longer and more athletic which made it very tough for the Spurs to get into the paint.
San Antonio scored just 22 points in the paint after they averaged 43.8 for the season. McGee had a lot to do with that.
"JaVale was great," Kerr said. "He's got, obviously, a lot of length, shot-blocking ability, mobility, I like his speed, so he was great, and there's no reason to take him out."