The Golden State Warriors jumped out to an early lead and are still hanging on at halftime, leading the San Antonio Spurs, 53-49, in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series on Monday night.
Points in the paint were largely in Golden State's favor, 24-10, as the Warriors were able to penetrate the Spurs' defense and shoot 55 percent from the field. San Antonio was held to 38.1 percent shooting.
The Warriors started sharp in the first quarter, hitting six of their first nine shots en route to an early 15-7 lead. San Antonio, like the Miami Heat before them, looked sluggish early on after the long layoff, but settled in a bit as the opening quarter went along. A heavy dose of Tim Duncan's measured game down low established the pacing that the Spurs wanted to play at and freed up open looks on the outside. It didn't stop Golden State from hitting shots themselves, as they hit 60 percent from the floor in the opening frame.
A couple of Golden State turnovers late in the first began swinging momentum to the Spurs' side, but the Warriors responded with buckets after every San Antonio push. Golden State led after one, 28-25.
The teams traded baskets as the second quarter started and the game's pace veered a little towards the open style favored by Golden State. The Warriors led by six midway through the frame after Stephen Curry drilled his first three-pointer of the night. After a timeout, he ripped another one, giving Golden State a nine-point advantage.
Then Tony Parker got going for a few possessions. But after he hit a couple of shots in a row, Klay Thompson again provided the Warriors with another response to keep the Spurs at a distance. Fouls began to slow the game down late in the second, and the Spurs scratched closer as a result, drawing to within four at the break.
In his preview, Kevin Zimmerman asked three questions about Game 1. Here are the early returns at halftime.
Which team wins the three-point shooting battle?
The Spurs were their precise selves from beyond the arc in the first half, shooting 4 of 8 from from three-point land. Gary Neal went 2 for 2, and Manu Ginobili, after hitting his first, missed his next four. Golden State started 1 of 4 in the first and finished 4 of 11 for the half.
The Warriors are still getting their shots up, but haven't hit enough, and the Spurs are within striking distance in part because of that.
Will Curry out-duel Parker?
Parker got more involved in the second quarter after a 1-for-5, two-point first quarter. Curry didn't start well either, with four turnovers and 2-of-6 shooting in the opening frame. Both players made their presence felt more in the second, each ending with 10 points. Parker added three points and three assists. Curry, on the other hand, finished the half with five assists and four turnovers.
We'll call it a wash until further notice.
Do the fledgling Warriors have a fighting chance?
Despite a slow start from Curry, the Warriors remained poised through mistakes of their own and continued pressure from San Antonio. They looked confident in their game in this first half and scored, at times, relatively easily. Yes, they've got a fighting chance as this one heads to the second half.