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Warriors Recap: Golden State 102, Minnesota 86. Slow start, inevitable finish, and another trap avoided.


Admiral Mark Jackbar tried to rear his ugly head tonight. The Golden State Warriors, 17-2, coming off 12 straight wins and a good one in Chicago, rolled into Minnesota to face a Timberwolves team decimated by injuries and with only four wins on the season. This was a classic trap game if ever there was one.

And when Andrew Bogut went to the locker room after just three minutes of play, the Warriors, with Festus Ezeli getting some rare burn and even rarer with the starters, looked nearly as aimless as one of those tie fighters that gets clipped with blaster fire and kinda spins and bounces along the Death Star gorge. The ball was still moving, but more tentatively and without the fulcrum that is Bogut on offense. Minnesota exploited that tentativeness toward one of their few redeeming statistical qualities — opponents' turnovers — picking off passes and turning them into opportunities on the break.

Even though the Warriors returned that favor by snatching up steals themselves, much of the first half was more like this:

Of course, from there, everything proceeded as many of us had foreseen: Klay Thompson hit a couple threes as the 2nd quarter closed, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green dominated the 3rd quarter with the help of Mo Buckets, they cracked open a 22 point lead, and that was that.

(h/t killjoy)

Andrew Wiggins looks like he could be Tracy McGrady, and Zach LaVine might be a bigger Monta Ellis. But without two starters in Pekovic and Rubio, it was going to be very difficult for this talent-starved Timberwolves squad to beat the Warriors, even on a bad day for GSW. And as poor as they played in the first half in a suddenly frightening post-Bogut hellscape, they didn't surrender the lead once, didn't have to play anybody 32 minutes or above, and ultimately won in convincing fashion.

We're in uncharted territory here. This exchange in the preview thread partially typified the moment:

This is frontrunnerdom: every game is a trap, because every game seems like it should be a win. This team has a 90% win percentage, on track to have the most winningest season in NBA history, and every game between now and that eternal glory is a land mine.

Warrior Wonder: Stephen Curry

Despite the slow start, Steph ended up hitting half his shots, had seven assists, four rebounds, three steals, and basically exerted his will in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. This could have gone to Klay, who was the steadiest player on offense in the first half and kinda kept the team afloat. Also was tempted to give it to Shaun Livingston, who did cough up the ball three times but also dished three dimes and picked up four steals, as he looked better than I recall seeing him all year in driving and finishing. The game ball should probably go to Steve Kerr, who utilized a lineup of Curry, Livingston, and Andre Iguodala (plus Draymond Green and Marreese Speights) in the 3rd quarter that completely confounded the young Wolves and their defensive game plan.

Probably the biggest takeaway from this game is how worried we should be about potentially losing Andrew Bogut for extended time. They were able to rally tonight, but looked far worse without him than with him. And as great as Speights has played, I'm not ready to count on him as an every-down center. At some point Bogut is gonna miss some games, whether with the knee tendonitis that took him out tonight, or some other more freakish malady that he seems to attract on an annual basis. While the Warriors' bench has certainly proven to be one of their strengths, tonight was a glimpse of how critical Bogut really is for this team. Stay tuned to GSOM for updates on Bogut's health and lots of hand-wringing by us all.

Oh — I almost published this post without mentioning:

13-game winning streak.

18-2 overall.

Best record in the NBA.

Unstoppable Baby.

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