100 consecutive sellouts at home - let that sink in for a bit.
That's a reward and sign of a home crowd that has supported a team through tough times and bad rosters, to finally get the payoff of a increasingly successful home team.
And no fan base could deserve it more than the locals in Oakland.
I'm sure other cities claim they have the best fans in basketball, but you can ask anyone in the league about the hometown effect here in Golden State. The fans have showed up and cheered through good basketball, through downright horrible basketball, and everything in between. They have booed (and rightfully so at times), but yet they have always cheered and have motivated this team into wins they should have never have gotten.
Miami was next in line to have to come in to try to stop the Warriors and their league-best record. Sure, Golden State had played a tough team in Utah last night. A roster with less composure and professionalism would have come out flat. But this home crowd, showing up in full on a Wednesday night in January where even they could have been expected to take a night off, wouldn't let them slack. The energy was clear, and the Warriors brought the A game that has gotten them one of the best starts in franchise history.
This Heat team is not the kind of rookie team that would roll over and let you take a night off. Like Indiana, they know how to play basketball have a winning pedigree. But in the end, even their strong grinding effort wasn't enough for the Warriors in the middle of one of their toughest stretches of the season schedule-wise. Lets break down the matchup:
A hot shooting first quarter highlighted by 11 fast break points in the first quarter gave the Warriors an early lead. Miami looked flat and uncreative, and Golden State's defense was able to create misses and bad passes. They forced the Heat into hero-ball to score points, and besides Warrior Killer Chris Bosh, nobody was able to get the ball in the basket for Miami. As Bob Fitzgerald points out, when the Warriors run, they are deadly. This might not always be available to them - the playoffs slow down and you don't get to play the wide-open style that they are able to take such great advantage of.
To be clear, it's very obvious how tame the Heat look without Dwayne Wade, who sat out with a sore hamstring. Their poor shooting point guards do not compliment the lack of contribution from role players like Hassan Whiteside or Danny Granger. Bosh can shoot lights out from different angles and distances, but is reverted to Toronto-level Chris Bosh, where he is asked to put the roster on his back. Luol Deng still disappears on the floor for long periods, and you wonder how the Heat are even able to generate solid offense.
In a quick comparison, four games back and the Andrew Bogut lobs are not connecting yet. It's a sign that his timing and touch around the rim is not back yet, but you have to appreciate that they are running plays for him early in games to help give him some repetitions and confidence back on the offensive end.
Bogut's counterpart, however, David Lee is looking fantastic on both ends of the floor, and with the creative dynamic second unit he was able to finish with both hands, play some defense and help extend the early lead through most of the second quarter with the starters on the bench. Lee looks ready to have a fist fight to get his starting spot back, where as Andrew Bogut looks slightly out of shape and aware that it will be a slow climb for him to get back to 100%.
Speaking of the second unit, Andre Iguodala lead the reserves deep into the second until Steph Curry finally re-entered the game, and gifted the starters a fifteen point lead.
I enjoy seeing Leandro Barbosa getting playing time. It obviously means that Shawn Livingston is not at 100%, and what a luxury to have Barbosa, who is a true professional. He is always prepared coming off the bench, and when his number is called he brings his max effort. This is why he was such a key pick up in the off-season: he came in on the veteran minimum when the team was looking at the scrap heap for insurance for Livingston's bad toe. He immediately made his presence felt with this new aggressive offense and balanced a bench who needed a voice and a source of positivity. He has been a trusted agent of Steve Kerr to start the year, and is essentially auditioning for his role as an assistant coach in the league in the near future. He even got rewarded with the first half interview on Warrior TV to celebrate a 55-38 lead going into the break.
The Heat took advantage of a flat starting squad coming out of the locker room in the second half to cut the deficit to single digits. Corner threes by Deng and some cold shooting by Klay had the Heat sniffing a comeback. The Warriors fought through a lack of effort until the energy finally started coming back deep into the third. It was the injection of Lee back onto the court, Curry fighting off a slightly rolled ankle to put on a shooting clinic from deep, and the same second unit that had created issues in the first half coming through again in the second half.
The offense scuffled its way through most of the fourth quarter as the Heat kicked up their defense. Miami even reverted to Hack-a-Bogut to completely kill the flow and crowd, before the Aussie made them pay by striping a few from the line. It was the desperate attempt to take the Warriors out of their usual high tempo flow, but again this winning team grinded through to keep control of the game.
Erik Spoelstra pulled out all the stops to keep his team in the game, but all it did was to keep the final score close. Your finishers tonight were Klay-Curry-Harrison-Iggy-Draymond, and that might be your closing lineup as this season continues on until Bogut can play more minutes. It wasn't pretty, but in the end it got the job done as the Warriors cruised home to the 104-89 win.
- I gave Mo Speights some trouble during my last recap during the Indiana game. It's hard to watch his jumpers kick off the back of the rim, and the league knows that the most inefficient offense goes through mid range jumpers. With that said, it's the intangibles that have impressed me the most about Mo Buckets. His hustle rebounds and put backs spark the home crowd and light up the bench. Granted it doesn't always look pretty, but when he is on he has become a better passer, makes better decisions on the drive, and will always take a charge if you need him to. He is fighting hard for that next contract as he will be a free agent after the year, and is earning every dollar that he is going to get. His contribution tonight didn't show up in the box score (8 points on 3-9 shooting) but it showed up in the intangibles.
- Every Warrior that played in the first half had an assist. Think about that. Between the bigs who have become lethal passers from the blocks and from the high post, to the point guards who are all unselfish, this team borders on actually passing too much at times. It's as if there is a competition for assists by Steve Kerr, who might be giving out hundred dollar bills for every dime thrown on the court. They ended up 6-for-7 when they made five or more passes on the court in the first half (thanks Alan Gentry for that nugget) but barely missed another 30 assist game as a team as the ball stopped moving a bit in the second half.
- Halfway through the tough week, and the team has done a great job so far balancing the minutes of the roster. These were the warm up games before the tough ones coming Friday and Saturday, and Kerr's staff had a clear game plan on resting and balancing contributions. Some will criticize him leaving in the starters at the end of the game, but he knows he has tomorrow off and the Heat never really gave up until the bench was emptied with under two minutes to play.
- If you had to build the perfect stretch-four, it would be Chris Bosh -- forget about Kevin Love. I know Love has better numbers, but from the pure eye test Bosh affects the game in so many different ways. He has got to play on a bit of autopilot with Lebron James in Miami over the last few years, but tonight it was clear the value Bosh has. He finished with 26 points on 8-18 shooting, but was the best player on the court at times for either side.
- Who leads the league in causing 24-second violations? The Warriors defense simply does not make any opponents possession look easy. The defense looks slightly more relaxed than it did to start the year, but if I'm an opponent I simply never look comfortable with the ball, working through constant switches and long length in the passing lanes. The only kryptonite of the defense are bigs who pick up scraps on the offensive end. If it was Rudy Gobert in Utah, it was Hassan Whiteside tonight who gave them issues in the paint.
What Twitter Said
Warriors tie their longest single-season home win-streak (15 games) as they beat Heat, 104-89. Curry posts his 8th 30+ point game of season.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 15, 2015
Let me get this straight: Curry misses two FTs, followed by Bogut making two FTs???— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) January 15, 2015
Warriors, with 12 threes tonight, have hit at least 10 threes in eight-straight games, the longest active such streak in the NBA.— GSWStats (@gswstats) January 15, 2015
On a night that celebrated a league-best home crowd, the home team didn't give them much sparkle to cheer for. They were, however treated with a new way to win.
Gone are the days of crazy comebacks and out of control affairs when the sell-out had to will them back into a match up against a tough opponent like the Heat. They extended their home winning streak to 15 wins with a dominating performance against a team not use to being dominated.
Steph Curry reminded us all why he is an all-star with 32 points, and sent the crowd home comfortable and happy. Justin Holiday talked in the postgame interview about how Steve Kerr preaches consistent energy from his players out on the court, and the reminder that in a long season there will be times that you aren't running at 100%. Well this team proved again that it doesn't take 100% to win games, and had just enough tonight to put another in the win column.