Golden State has now won seven in a row against Minnesota, and their defense in tonight's 106-93 win was a main reason why.
Limiting the previously 3-1 Timberwolves to under 40 percent from the field, and 25 percent from the 3-point line will definitely help get the job done.
The Warriors dominated the second half defensively. Harrison Barnes made his much-awaited return in the first quarter, and the Black Falcon showed immediately why he is so important with six points in his first five minutes of action. Barnes played in spurts throughout the night and finished with fourteen points in thirteen minutes. He also had an explosive dunk off of a SICK Stephen Curry pass in the third quarter. The Black Falcon is back: Be very afraid, NBA bigs.
Oh, Steph Curry...you fancy. http://t.co/LhkdxUYjS1— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) November 7, 2013
Andre Iguodala again had a solid all-around line as he played point forward with Curry out for the last quarter, and ran the team well, finishing with twenty points, six assists, and three steals.
On the negative side, Curry seemed to injure his knee in the third quarter, but returned; however, he ended up spraining his left ankle as he landed on Kevin Love's foot with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Curry did not re-enter the game after that, and was seen visibly limping to the locker room after the ankle sprain. The injury did not look serious on film, but with Curry, you just can't take any chances.
Per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Stephen Curry: "It’ll be alright. I had a rough third quarter, but I’m not concerned long-term. I’ll get my treatment and get ready for SA."— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) November 7, 2013
Key Stat: 37.8 percent from the floor
Golden State held another opponent to under 40 percent shooting from the field, as the Timberwolves shot only 37.8 percent from the field tonight. Last season, the Warriors held opponents to under forty percent shooting nineteen times 9they went 17-2 in those games), and this season have already done it four times, going 4-0. Golden State also limited Minnesota to just 4-16, 25 percent, from the three point line.
The Timberwolves came into the game ranked in the top five in the NBA in both pace and points per game, going 3-1 to start the year, but the Warriors repeatedly forced them into numerous long, contested jump shots. Kevin Love's stat line looks good at first glance with 25 points and 16 rebounds, but dig deeper and you see that the Warriors, with a multitude of defenders, held him to just 9-for-23 shooting.
The Warriors also held Ricky Rubio to just 2-for-8 shooting and just seven points, with four turnovers. The fact that Golden State held the Timberwolves to under 40 percent shooting and just 93 points total in their own building shows the defensive progression under Mark Jackson and the whole team working as one on the defensive side of the floor. Overall, a fabulous defensive showing by the Warriors on the road against a great offensive team.
Key Matchup: David Lee vs Kevin Love
Two of the best offensive power forwards in the game went at it tonight, as David Lee and last week's Western Conference Player of the Week Kevin Love showcased their skills early on. They went at one another repeatedly in the first half, as numerous deliberate post-ups were displayed by both teams. Lee finished with 22 points and fifteen boards, and Love had his double-double. If you look at those stats, the matchup basically ended in a wash; however, Lee shot 10-for-16, and Love finished 10-for-25 from the floor; using advanced stats, Lee finished +11 for the night, and Love had a negative plus/minus with a -2.
- The Black Falcon, Harrison Barnes, played his first minutes of action in the first quarter. The Warriors went right to Barnes on his first three possessions, and he showed no signs of rust early on, as he started out three for four from the field, including a nice reverse layup.
- The Warriors' bench stepped up when called upon in the second quarter, going on a 9-0 run with Klay Thompson to start the second period. The Warriors went from down 30-26 to up 35-30, and had a lead they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the half, and in fact the rest of the game. Bench scoring at the half measured 17-2 in favor of the Warriors, and was a big part of their spurt to seize the lead at the half. The Warriors ended up with 27 bench points in comparison to the T-Wolves ten. This was really the first time that the bench has really stepped up when needed in the flow of the game.
- The Splash Brothers were more like the Brick Brothers in the first half, as Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined to go 3-14 at the half. The Warriors as a whole shot oh-for from three-point land in the first half, totaling zero threes on eight attempts. Only Andre Iguodala and David Lee did anything offensively in the first half, combining for 26 points on 11-16 shooting while the rest of the Warriors shot just 32% combined from the field.
- Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer shot very well in the first half and finished with 23 and 18 points, respectively. Martin was a thorn in the side of the Warriors all night long, shooting eight free throws and hitting two threes. The two wings were the only Timberwolves that played meaningful minutes to shoot above forty percent.
Warrior Wonder: Klay Thompson
Harrison Barnes made his return, and David Lee and Andre Iguodala both had solid, if not spectacular nights, but it was Klay Thompson who was Golden State's MVP tonight.
The win marks Golden State's third in a row. All of their wins have come by double figures, the first time since moving from Philadelphia that that's happened. In their victories, the Warriors have also held every team to under forty percent shooting, a sign of their improved defense this season.
The haters will scream small sample size, and that's true, but currently the Warriors rank second behind only Indiana in opponent's field goal percentage and defensive rating. The Warriors also rank first in net rating, first in field goal percentage, and fifth in offensive rating.
So far, this team is displaying a willingness to share the ball and buy into Mark Jackson's strategies on defense, and it has resulted a Warriors team that looks very, very dangerous.