Balls: Thompson needs to tune out noise, just play 

click to enlarge Warriors guard Klay Thompson, right, shoots over the Pelicans’ Norris Cole (30) and Quincy Pondexter during Saturday’s Game 1 of the first-round playoff series. - MARCIO JOE SANCHEZ/AP
  • Marcio Joe Sanchez/AP
  • Warriors guard Klay Thompson, right, shoots over the Pelicans’ Norris Cole (30) and Quincy Pondexter during Saturday’s Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
There was a lot to like about the Warriors in Game 1 of their playoff opener Saturday, even if it did come against a New Orleans Pelicans team that isn’t long for these playoffs.

Their first quarter was beyond sensational. Their starters were solid. The final score was better yet.

The only negative was a loose fourth quarter. And if you want to get nitpicky about it, the play of Klay Thompson was hit and mostly miss. He shot 6-of-17 in the field and 6-of-9 at the free-throw line and was guilty of five turnovers, which didn’t silence any doubters around the country. When Balls asked whether the 11 missed field goals or the three missed free throws bothered him more — innocently, of course — Thompson responded with the hint of a glare.

“I feel great,” he said.

When another reporter asked whether the Warriors could win it all without their 3-point offense, Thompson left in a semi-huff.

“C’mon, are you kidding me?” he said on his way out of the locker room. OK, Balls gets it. Thompson is a bit annoyed by the occasional criticism about his game in general and the Warriors’ jumpshooting ways in particular. But he better get used to it, because only a NBA championship will stop the chatter once and for all.

AT IT ALREADY: It took all of two quarters for Curry to make the fans go “Wooooo!” with one of those ridiculous shots of his. He threw up a left-handed reverse that nearly hit off the top edge of the backboard before it tumbled through the net. He was fouled on the play and completed the conventional three-point play.

“At that point, it’s not so much luck but just trying to get it on the backboard any way you can, and hopefully, it falls in,” Curry tried to explain. “I turned around and it went in, so it was a fun little play, and I’m glad I executed it.”

A fun little play, all right.

“Yeah, I don’t know how it went in,” Thompson said. “That was a ridiculous shot. To put that kind of spin on the ball is amazing.”

STICKER SHOCK: What stinks about the postseason is that some of the real fans who have supported their teams through thick and thin are priced right out of the building. And if anybody knows about thin, it’s Warriors fans, who haven’t had a sniff of the NBA Finals since the Ford administration.

Warriors tickets are hotter than a Curry 3-point exhibition right now. As of early Friday night, fans had shelled out an average of $240.77 to attend the opener, according to TiqIQ, a New York-based ticket numbers cruncher. The average price ticket was a league-high $338.49 for all potential first-round games at Oracle Arena, the most expensive of any team in the first round. The average ticket went for $321.24 regardless of the location. That was 8.5 percent higher than the San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Clippers series, where the average price was $296.01, Balls was told.

The most expensive courtside ticket at Oracle Arena listed at $4,600-plus. Do you realize that, for that kind of money, you could buy one Shamrock Shake every day for almost the next six years?

Heck, fans paid an average of 109 bucks to sit in the nosebleeds. That left some families with a difficult choice — groceries for one month or the Splash Brothers for one night.

FREE (THROW) ADVICE: At last, the NBA will begin to test for human growth hormone in training camps next season, it announced last week. A positive test will result in a 20-game suspension for the first violation, a 45-game ban for the second offense and a permanent pink slip for a third one.

Balls proposes free throw testing, in which any player who failed to shoot at least 50 percent in the last month will be subject to the same penalties.

ODDS: According to the odds-makers, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are 9-4 favorites to win the NBA title this season, but what do they know? They installed James and the Miami Heat as 2-1 favorites last spring, and we know how that turned out.

(Note: Betting real money or anything of value on the outcomes of sports events is not legal in California.)

Meanwhile, Balls sets the odds at 2-7 that TNT goofball Charles Barkley will say something really dumb in the first week of the playoffs.

THE LIST: Current odds to win the NBA title:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers 9-4

2. Warriors 5-2

3. San Antonio Spurs 4-1

4. Atlanta Hawks 12-1

5. Chicago Bulls 14-1

5. Los Angeles Clippers 14-1

5. Houston Rockets 14-1

8. Memphis Grizzlies 25-1

9. Portland Trail Blazers 50-1

10. Toronto Raptors 50-1

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