Prior to Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, the playoff resume of Warriors forward David Lee was particularly thin.

Last year, Lee finally broke the league’s longest drought by making his first postseason appearance for the Warriors in their first-round series against the Nuggets. He played 29 minutes in Game 1, but wasn’t quite himself—he shot 4-for-14 from the field and, worse, tore his hip flexor, an injury that eventually required surgery. He did try to return from the injury later, but played only 36 more minutes.

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So when he came out for Game 1 of the Warriors’ opening series this year, Lee’s nerves could be easily explained.

"I got off to a slow start,” Lee said. “Really, because of getting hurt last year, this is my first playoff game. Once again, just like our team, I tried to be resilient. Guys told me, just keep being aggressive, and in the second half, I got into a little bit better rhythm.”

He did just that. After opening with 1-for-3 shooting, scoring two points with four turnovers, in the first quarter, Lee finished strong, scoring 20 points with 13 rebounds and three assists, leading the way to Golden State’s 109-105 upset win that now shifts the homecourt advantage their series with the Clippers to the Warriors.

For Golden State, the win was as validating as it was bizarre. Lee’s performance inside was aided by the early foul trouble from Clippers star forward Blake Griffin, who dominated the Warriors for 25.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in their four regular-season matchups. But Griffin fouled out of Game 1, playing just 19 minutes.

The refereeing crew on the afternoon, it seemed, was intent on keeping any potential roughhousing out of this one. Last month, Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal and Griffin got into a postgame scuffle, and this week, Klay Thompson made headlines by calling Griffin a flopper. There were 60 combined free throws, and Warriors forward Andre Iguodala joined Griffin in collecting six fouls.

While the Clippers can temper concern over the loss with the knowledge that Griffin probably won’t foul out again in the series, the Warriors can take some comfort in knowing that they scored 109 points and won despite poor numbers from star guard Stephen Curry, who had 14 points on 6-for-16 shooting, and had his seven assists wiped out by seven turnovers. Thompson had 22 p

oints, but made just 7-of-20 shots—the Warriors don’t often win with Curry and Thompson combining for just 13-for-36 from the field.

Throw in the absence of starting center Andrew Bogut, who is out indefinitely with a broken rib, and the Warriors had their share of adversity.

But anyone who has watched the Warriors enough this season knows, they often fare best under the toughest circumstances.

"Missing Andrew is a huge piece of what we do, he anchors our defense,” Lee said. “I think the biggest thing is, we feel like we have nothing to lose coming into this series. We feel like this is a series with two very good basketball teams, so our goal tonight was to come out aggressive and come out and hit first.

"We feel like we have enough players to win this series, and we just tried to be aggressive and maybe being shorthanded focused in on that a little bit more.”

Warriors coach Mark Jackson agreed.

Going back to the Warriors’ fun postseason run last year, when they knocked off Denver and had the Spurs on the ropes before losing in six games, Jackson said his team gets up for this time of year. In both of their Game 1s last season, the Warriors lost—though Jackson pointed out, they probably should have won both.

"The lights are brightest,” Jackson said. “We won on the road last year, both rounds, against two very good basketball teams. We know what we’re doing. When you look at the makeup of this basketball team, individually and collectively, they’re fighters. Top to bottom. We’ve got a bunch of guys, survey says, are not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be coaching. Steph Curry is supposed to be retired because of his ankle. David Lee was a loser.”

With nine years in the NBA and only 30 postseason points to his credit, you could have said Lee was indeed a loser. But on Saturday, he altered that, at least a little.