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Warriors fail to cover spread, beat Timberwolves 110-96 anyway

The Golden State Warriors are really good. The Minnesota Timberwolves were playing for Karl Towns.

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

On a per-36 minute basis, Stephen Curry averages about the same number of shots per quarter. In the last couple seasons, Curry takes about the same amount of shots without much delineation from around 4 per every potential 12 minutes. Nothing has changed much in the 2014-15 season but Curry is usually comfortable passing and letting his players get in rhythm, especially in a game like this - similar to what LeBron James will do - without changing his gameplan much. After taking five shots in the first nine minutes, a single play summed up an emphatic win after a disappointing SoCal road trip. Curry drove out of a pick-and-roll with David Lee, took three defenders with him, waited, waited, then dropped an overhead right-handed pass to a wide-open Lee at the rim. He does this often but after his teammates were ineffective against the Los Angeles teams, Curry made sure that they would excel tonight.

The team's on-off numbers are stark. They are about 20 points worse with him off the floor. That is a problem but that will be a static issue when your best player is that good. Part of me likes that the Warriors are this off-kilter when Curry isn't on the court, because that's simply how excellent of a playmaker he has become without giving up much of anything on the other end.

Draymond Green was a defensive menace in his 32 minutes played. Green piled up eights rebounds, six assists, six steals, three blocks to go with a whopping four points while leading the team with a +25. He is almost as good as Andrew Bogut at mind-screwing people at the rim. On a two-on-one transition play, Green played the pass perfectly, putting himself between the two players without overcommitting. After he forced the pass, he recovered quickly to block the shot as Zach Lavine tried to go reverse. What genius.

On offense, Green scored four points but his mind works at twice the speed of a normal basketball player. The Warriors ran a play to get Klay Thompson a shot at the top of the key, which works as a decoy with Curry speeding around a screen on the left wing. Klay passed it to Green down on the block, who had an open hook shot. Knowing he didn't necessarily excel at those, Green touch-passed it across the court to Curry for an open jumper. Anytime you can anticipate a pass to a wide-open Curry jumper rather than your own hook shot, that's the right play every single possession.

Leftover Observations

1. David Lee at the five is a necessity with Andrew Bogut off the court. It might prove to be a good option if he comes back anyway. Two plays summed up the positives and negatives of what Lee does bring. The Warriors ran their standard spread pick-and-roll and had an open Klay Thompson in the corner. Unfortunately, Lee pops into the free-throw line where Bogut would have rolled to the bucket. The spacing got cramped and Thompson couldn't get the pass and shot off.

On a dribble-handoff play, Lee did his best Bogut impersonation by having a defender rub off on him before he passed. This works well even if Lee sets awful non-contact screens. All he has to do is be a human being and get in the way. The defender also has to take a step up to respect his jump shot, whereas defenders stay back on Bogut. Subtle differences but nice wrinkles against good defensive teams.

Lee at the five almost blocked two shots. I guess...

2. Andre Iguodala was suffocating on defense as usual. On offense he nailed a three and made enough plays, including one where, on a fastbreak, drove into the teeth of the defense as Chase Budinger tried to stick to Iguodala. The second Budinger left Curry, Iguodala flipped it to him for an open three. He's a really smart passer. And went a perfect 3-3 from the line. Gravy.

3. Ognjen Kuzmic started the fourth quarter and played an entire 12 minutes worth of garbage time. He didn't really look like anything good or bad. Steve Kerr has tried this method of rotation incorporation twice: inserting Brandon Rush at the end of first half lineups and playing Justin Holiday with the starters. It hasn't worked for Rush and it appears promising for Holiday. Whatever the result is, the process is a no-risk, some-reward situation. The coaching staff is really good.

4. Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are really fun. The Wolves will also likely score a top-3 pick and that's a core worth fawning over. As for tonight, LaVine outplayed the overall number one pick. LaVine might have a quicker leap than Wiggins, which is insane. Wiggins posted up Thompson rather easily, and surprisingly. to start the game but vanished throughout the rest. To be fair, on a bad team like this one, Wiggins isn't going to get the ball much in advantageous situations while LaVine will put up some numbers due to sheer usage rate. Both are fun to watch, regardless.

5. The bench unit lacked offensive bite, as usual. Kerr is starting to play Curry the entire first and third quarters, opting to forego the standard superstar rest spanning the end of the first and third. Curry hasn't played many minutes to start the season, especially in these blowouts, so the slight uptick shouldn't be a problem.

6. Curry came into the game "struggling" from distance, at "only" 38.2 percent.

There you go.

7. Here are some quotes I heard on TV post-game because I didn't get to cover the game tonight. Kerr was not very happy about the turnovers:

  • "The one-handed silly stuff, i don't know if it's showmanship or whatever but I know it won't get us very far in the postseason."
  • "I think it's a habit. I think our team has poor habits."
  • "They want to put on a show."

There's a link to listen to everything in full.

The Golden State Warriors will stay at home to take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday at 7:30 PST.

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