The Milwaukee Bucks are 13-56 overall, 5-29 on the road, and in the midst of a tanktastic five-game losing streak and hungry for more. So of course, the Bucks stayed annoyingly close which forced Stephen Curry to play 38 minutes and Andrew Bogut, questionable coming into the game with an ankle tweak, to run around on it for 27. Good times for all. But if you've been paying attention all season, this isn't especially surprising. Mediocre, or in this case, horrendous Eastern Conference team frequently come in to squeeze a win from a lifeless Golden State Warriors squad.
But regardless of that fact, there's something inherently and explicitly selfish in wanting to watch Stephen Curry do his thing, hit sideways underhand and-ones and nail three after three, while understanding that the next misstep can result in the first (knocks on anything remotely wood-related) ankle injury of the season. There were a ton of minutes played and hardwood covered but in a long season full of lackluster effort and forgetful games, Curry found a way to make a mid-March game memorable.
Onto brighter news, Bogut looked spry off his ankle injury and Klay Thompson keeps rolling along after coming off a horrific shooting slump. The insistence and epiphanic (we'd like to think) drive to take the ball inside is perhaps a building block with which to build on in the rest of Thompson's season and career.
And now for your random arbitrary endpoint theater statistic of the night, Thompson has shot 65.9 percent from 5 feet inside the 5-feet line - where 17.5 percent of his total shots have come from - after the All-Star Break. Before the All-Star Break, he was shooting 56.4 percent from inside the 5-feet line and was only taking 12.9 percent of his total shots there. Be it a change in overall mindset or just a case of situational differences and overall randomness, it's an improvement that only furthers and adds different dimensions to his game. Thompson is tall and strong enough to finish at the rim. He doesn't necessarily have to be quicker or athletic because of the way his shot keeps defenders off-balance.
As for the game itself, the Bucks aren't without talent, like say, the Philadelphia Sixers. Brandon Knight has sneakily improved his game since pronounced DOA after the DeAndre Jordan destruction. Larry Sanders isn't playing but John Henson offers similar length and ability to disrupt the Warriors interior. Jeff Adrien and Zaza Pachulia are hustle players - though different ones - that bother teams. Khris Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova are excellent shooters. They aren't good, but they aren't awful, talent-wise. I guess that's saying something when it comes to the Eastern Conference as a whole. Good for them. Get that EmbiidJabariWigginsExum.
The tried and true selection of Curry should not be overlooked. No matter how awful the Bucks defense may be, the Warriors still probably lose this game without Curry's insane playmaking and shooting ability.
31 points on 14 shots is pretty ridiculous. Toss in the 11 assists and it took a surprised, subdued crowd all the way until the final buzzer to shower in some "MVP" chants.
1. The struggle sophomore season of Harrison Barnes continues. He actually took good shots today. A slash to the basket (missed layup and an enormously excited Fitz reaction) and five open threes (all clanks) led to an 0-7 performance and a team-low -10 in 27 minutes played. There's not much else to add except hoping that some semblance of confidence instills itself into Barnes for the final 12 games. There's hope. There always is. I think.
2. Jordan Crawford got the ball with five seconds left before the end of the third quarter. He got to halfcourt with a good four seconds remaining. He then decided to wait around before launching a 30-foot three. And making it. Hilariously typical Steezus stuff.
3. Mark Jackson had Draymond Green bring the ball up on several occasions. That's Andre Iguodala-esque. Won't happen much but he does dribble better than Barnes, which isn't saying much but is saying something.
In a singular possession, probably my favorite play of the game: Green got pushed backwards by Adrien but recovered to block it from the side, then said something you hear at your local pickup game, ran down the court dragging several Bucks to the side while Curry coasted down for a non-contact layup. Cool stuff.
4. As for everyone's favorite up-and-coming star, Giannis Antetokounmpo played 31 minutes, scored 11 points on 6 shots, grabbed eight rebounds and dropped four dimes. He's shown flashes of Paul George's long-armed hounding defense, LeBron James' vision and Kevin Durant's lanky ballhandling. He won't end up as great as them, probably, since I'm a huge hedger, but at an age when I was trying to figure out if PBRs were actual beer (no), he's out there shooting clutch free throws in an NBA game.
An aside: he was spun around twice by Klay Thompson driving layups. Rarely do we ever see controlled Thompson drives but I guess it took a 19-year old guarding Thompson for him to exhibit his old-man game.
Statistical support for this piece provided by NBA.com, unless stated otherwise.