Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
TV: CSN Bay Area // Radio: KNBR 680
Blog Buddy: Brew Hoop
The Warriors last played Milwaukee in the freezing temperatures of the Brew City, and the 101-80 Warriors victory showed just how far apart the two teams are in the front office, on the court, and in the stands.
Golden State is looking to make some big noise in the playoffs for the second year in a row, has sold out every home game this year; is a big draw on the road; and has made a complete switch of direction since Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors in 2010, becoming aggressive in free agency and willing to swing for the fences. With a core of Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut locked up for three years at least, the Warriors have ensured they will be a major player in the West for the next few seasons.
The Bucks, meanwhile, have an owner, Senator Herb Kohl, who, to many a fan's chagrin, has mandated that the Bucks be competitive, even though his version of competitiveness is barely making the eighth seed with a 41-41 record and getting swept in the first round. There have been strong whispers around the league that the Bucks may move to Seattle if they cannot build a new arena. (Luckily for Bucks fans, reports recently surfaced stating that new investors interested in keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee have begun talks with Kohl and that a deal could be reached by late June.)
The Bucks play in a half-full stadium; their star player, Larry Sanders, got in a bar fight; their highest-paid player, O.J. Mayo, couldn't give two cents about defense; and even with the mandate, the Bucks have been unbelievably bad, owners of the worst record in basketball. Here's how bad the Bucks are: Philadelphia is on a twenty-two game losing streak and the Bucks are still two games below them in the standings!
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the so-called "savior" of the worst team in the league, is the only bright spot (both literally and figuratively) of the roster. While he's still immensely raw and learning his way around the game, he's talented, long, has huge hands, and his fervent joie de vivre brings some happiness and glee to a team lacking in it.
Despite Milwaukee scoring less and "achieving" what would be a league-worst points allowed per 100 possessions when Giannis is on the floor, you can just see the talent oozing off of him, with incredible chase-down blocks, massive dunks, and persistent end-to-end improvement throughout a trying rookie season.
Golden State is looking to be peaking going into the playoffs, and the way to do that is to crush inferior teams and hang with the great ones. The Bucks are the former.
I have no doubt the Warriors remember what happened last Friday, when the lowly Cavaliers travelled to Oracle, fell behind by 18 in the first half, outscored Golden State by nearly 30 in the second and third quarters, and ended up winning the game by nine. It was a disastrous defeat that just cannot happen anymore, especially with less than a month until the playoffs; this team is just too good and too talented.
Sorkin's Four Keys to a Warriors Win
- Score, Score, Score.
With capable scorers at the one, two, and four, the Warriors are well-equipped to put the ball in the bucket on any given night. Tonight, facing one of the league's worst defenses, Golden State should have 70 points and stamp out any chance the Bucks have of winning by halftime. Stephen Curry shouldn't have to hit his averages of 24 points and 8.6 assists for the Warriors to win comfortably tonight, but he should put on a show in the minutes he does play.
- Keep the Foot on the Gas Pedal
- Bomb Away
Stephen Curry, already leading the league in three-pointers attempted and made with 520 and 215, respectively, has an outside chance at breaking his three-point record if he averages 4.5 threes per game. We could see him come off screens looking to fire away from downtown a lot tonight. Klay Thompson is always looking to have a big game. Also, the much-maligned Harrison Barnes needs to show that he can do something - anything - consistently, and scoring may be the only way he'll get major minutes come postseason.
- Defend Solidly
Without Andre Iguodala for the next two games with knee tendonitis, and Andrew Bogut a game-time decision with a tweaked ankle, it's important the Warriors can capably defend without their two best individual and team defenders on the floor for a whole game. They did a good job on Tuesday without Iguodala or Bogut of forcing the Magic to beat them on fade-aways and low-efficient contested shots, and that would be a nice recipe for success tonight as well. John Henson is the only player getting consistent minutes on Milwaukee that shoots higher than even 50% from the field, dating back to January 1st. Allowing their guards to launch bricks from outside, and contesting everything down low is a good way for the Warriors to dominate defensively.
- Stephen Curry goes for 25 points in 26 minutes.
- Klay Thompson scores 22 himself and adds four assists.
- Milwaukee shoots 36% from the floor and 27% from three.
- The starters don't play in the fourth quarter.
- 104-81 Warriors.