(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports/Cary Edmondson)
Stephen Curry has missed Golden State's first six postseason games as he recovered from a sprained left knee suffered March 23. The Warriors (58-24) have not missed their All-Star guard, who averages 26.4 points and 6.1 assists, all that much as they won five of those games and pummeled the Pelicans 123-101 on Saturday night to open this conference semifinal series.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr held out Curry primarily as a precaution, though he did tell the San Francisco Chronicle before Game 1 his point guard "pleaded his case," but added, "when you've been out five weeks and you want to play in the playoffs, I don’t think one scrimmage is enough, even though he feels great and wants to play ... it’s very likely he’ll play Game 2."
As has been the case most of the season, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green picked up the scoring slack. Durant and Thompson totaled 53 points between them while Green recorded his fourth career playoff triple-double with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.
While the offense continued to hum without Curry, the biggest takeaway from Game 1 was the Warriors succeeding with a smaller starting five to counter New Orleans' space-based offense in the halfcourt. Green moved to center and Nick Young entered the starting lineup to replace JaVale McGee, and the increased speed contributed to holding the Pelicans to eight for 25 from 3-point range after they connected on a 40 percent clip in their first-round sweep of Portland.
Anthony Davis had 21 points and ten rebounds while E'Twaun Moore added 15 points for New Orleans, who were also outscored 24-9 at the foul line. Jrue Holiday, whose stellar play down the stretch contributed to a nine-game Pelicans winning streak spanning the end of the regular season and first round of the playoffs, made just four of 14 shots and finished with 11 points.
After this game, the series shifts to New Orleans for Game 3 on Friday night.