OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors routed the New Orleans Pelicans by 22 points in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series, but the road team's pace took a lot out of the defending champions on Saturday night.
"Man, it was tiring," Klay Thompson said after scoring a game-high 27 points in a 123-101 win. "The Spurs, they are a little older, so they play a little more methodical. They try to beat us up in the half court and low block. This team is kind of like playing ourselves. It's like, you make a bucket, you can't relax. You have to sprint back, find a shooter and they are pushing the tempo. It's a whole different ballgame."
New Orleans was racing the ball up the court on makes and misses. Thompson, who is considered arguably the best-conditioned athlete in the league, joked with Draymond Green during the game about how fatiguing it is to play against the Pelicans.
"Klay looked at me on the bench and said, 'Man, Draymond, I got more tired tonight than I did in any game against the Spurs,'" Green said with a laugh. "That kind of sums it up. It's a completely different tempo. They are really pushing the ball, like he said, and nonetheless, as long as we are getting back into transition and not giving up easy stuff, I think that plays into our hands."
Saturday's game was played at a pace of 105.96 possessions per 48 minutes, according to NBA Advanced Stats. For context, the Pelicans led the league in pace during the regular season at 102.73. The Warriors ranked fifth at 101.85. The Spurs, Golden State's first-round opponent, ranked 29th at 97.16. None of Golden State's five games against San Antonio had a pace higher than 98.12 (Game 1).
Most teams don't attempt to race up the floor with the Warriors. It is a common belief within NBA circles that it is virtually impossible to beat them at their own game.
However, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said he's not reversing course on his team's style of play.
"We're still going to play with a fast pace, and we are going to do a better job of spacing the floor," Gentry said. "We're going to be better defensively from the standpoint of not having breakdowns.
"We're not going to go back and change everything that we did. We're not going to all of a sudden walk the ball up the court now and try to play slow. You know, what we've got to do is, we've got to get AD [Anthony Davis] more involved in the game from the standpoint of even the double-teams, we've got to get him out on the floor and get space, and we've got to do a better job of shot selection. Then we've got to do a better job defensively."
The Warriors broke open the game in the second quarter, producing 41 points while holding the Pelicans to 21 on 7-of-23 shooting from the field.
Davis, who registered 21 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, said his team hasn't lost hope. He also agreed with Gentry's stance on keeping the matchup a track meet.
"We're very confident, man," he said. "It's one game. They win by 40, they win by one, they win by 90, it's one game. It's still best out of seven, so our job is to learn from what we messed up tonight, get prepared for Game 2. We know we're a much better team than what we showed tonight defensively. We showed that last time we played here, so we just got to come out with a different mindset, have pride in our defense, and try to get out and run."
Warriors star Stephen Curry is expected to make his postseason debut in Game 2 on Tuesday night after he sat out the past five weeks because of a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. If he's in the lineup, the Warriors' pace might pick up considerably.
No matter what personnel the Warriors will have on the floor, they believe they'll be ready for whatever the Pelicans throw their way.
"We know this team is fast-paced and they score a lot of points and they have got guys that can go off and score 30, 40 points, so we've just got to be ready for it," Kevin Durant said. "I think the San Antonio series definitely helped us out as far as staying locked in on every possession because they make you pay, and the same with this team, as well."
ESPN's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.