Your boys at GSoM were at the game today thanks to some help from Chris Murphy. We started off with a tailgate party, met up with some friends and then headed off to watch the Warriors take on the Timberwolves.
This is uncharted territory for a lot of Warrior fans. With the win today against the Timberwolves combined with a Clipper loss to Sacramento, the Warriors are in the 8th spot in the West, 1 game ahead of the Clippers with just 2 games left. That means the Warriors control their own destiny and have a magic number of only 2. By controlling their own destiny, the Warriors don't need to worry about scenarios of how they get in, they just need to take care of business in the next 2 games.
I love you. I love you more...
This game was not nearly as close as the final score indicates. The Warriors were in control the entire game and were up by double digits for about 3.5 quarters. Check out the boxscore, the Warriors were up by 40 points after 3 quarters. For most of the 4th quarter, the Warriors played Sarunas Jasikevicius, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, Josh Powell, and Adonal Foyle against the Timberwolves starting 5. The result of that quarter was ugly and Ricky Davis was able to go off, but the Warriors key players were able to get some serious rest especially since the game didn't really matter at that point. Baron and Stephen Jackson played just 25 minutes, Al Harrington logged 26 minutes, Pietrus played just 12 minutes, Biedrins only 15 minutes, and Monta with 32 minutes. They should be well rested for the back to back coming up, the most important back to back in the last 12 years.
So how did the Warriors build such a big lead?
The Warriors put the hurt on the Twolves real quick. At the 4:40 mark of the first quarter the game was 20-16 Warriors and when the explosion happened. Al Harrington missed a 3, but Baron scooped up the offensive board and dropped in a layup. In the next 3.5 minutes, the Warriors would roll off an 16-4 run, highlighted by 8 points from Jason Richardson, to put the Twolves in their place. The quarter ended 38-22.
During that entire quarter, I didn't really notice Stephen Jackson. He seemed to not be in the game. He picked up a couple fouls, missed a few shots, and had a turnover. He didn't score, didn't record an assist, and didn't grab a rebound. He just didn't seem to have any energy for today's game, but his teammates were there to pick up the slack. I'm not worried about him because he's the one with the most experience down the stretch, but I do feel lucky that he had his bad game against the Timberwolves, and not Dallas on Tuesday.
Maybe I'm being overly critical, but honestly, the Warriors didn't look that good out there on offense in the first half. They got careless with the ball, didn't seem to always throw crisp passes, and even threw some bad passes trying to be fancy. There must have been 3 or 4 missed fast break opportunities because somebody threw a bad alley oop pass. I'm not sure if it was because of the opponent, but the guys seemed to be fooling around out there rather than focusing on putting the other team away. Maybe I'm being picky, but those missed passes and sloppy play will come back to haunt you against some teams. Please take care of the ball. They still scored a ton of points, but that's because their defense gave them a ton of opportunities.
The defense in the first 3 quarters was fabulous. They really got after the Twolves. Anyone who drove the lane or posted up had at least 2 guys taking a swipe at the ball. With the Twolves missing Kevin Garnett, they had guys who don't normally handle the ball as much, handling the ball way too much. At the end of the first half, I think the Twolves had 14 turnovers which led to a lot of fast break buckets for the Warriors. Thanks to the Twolves poor transition defense, there were a lot of layups. The Warriors also challenged nearly all of the Twolves shots making it more difficult for them to get a clean look. It's the same defense they've been playing the last few weeks, and it's frustrating the other teams. All of the players are so quick to the ball and have such quick hands that they can bother the offensive players just enough. Great defense of late, we need to keep it up.
2 games left. The Warriors are one of the hottest teams in the league and they just need to finish strong to guarantee themselves an 83rd game. It's an exciting time to be a Warrior fan and we're almost there. Anyone going to the game against Dallas on Tuesday? If you are, you could be watching history.
Just one of JRich's nasty dunks
This one goes to Jason Richardson. It wasn't only his 32 points, but also the way he hit the boards (12 rebounds), and kept the offense moving (7 assists), all in just 3 quarters. He came to play today and showed a lot of heart. The highlight of the game was probably his alley oop from Stephen Jackson. Jax threw a pass that was well behind him, so he leapt to catch it and had to extend his arms all the way back to get the ball. He just kept elevating with the ball in his hands and threw it down ferociously and the crowd went wild. He was the man today.
Before you go, head on over to Sactown Royalty to thank them and their team for helping us get to 1 game in front of the Clippers.