It sure felt like a long time since the Warriors last played. It had been five days since their game against the Milwaukee Bucks, which was a disappointment despite the win. Notably, the defensive intensity was lacking: the Bucks scored 70 points in the first half, and 112 in the entire game on 46% shooting.
Against the Jazz, the Warriors showed a defensive focus reminiscent of last year's championship squad. Limiting the Jazz to 13 points in the first quarter, the Dubs turned forced turnovers and blocked shots into fast break and early offensive opportunities. Despite a poor shooting game from Stephen Curry, who had 16 points on 5-14 shooting, the team received strong contributions from across the roster, with nine players finishing with six or more points. Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, and Festus Ezeli especially stood out.
One of the most interesting aspects of this game were Luke Walton's rotations. At the beginning of the second quarter, Walton subbed in James Michael McAdoo instead of Marreese Speights, who didn't play in the game at all. After the lead was trimmed from 10 to 3 in about three minutes, Walton subbed in a few starters. In the third, Walton went with an extremely small lineup with guards Curry, Leandro Barbosa, and Ian Clark alongside Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green. The lineup went +3 in about four minutes. The fourth quarter saw more Klay and Draymond than usual, to bolster the bench unit's offensive punch.
Steph just put Derrick Favors in a blender https://t.co/cPsgVj5vRi— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) December 24, 2015
It doesn't get prettier than this. Curry no look lob to Boggy. https://t.co/hUgFof06ps— Jae Azizi (@JaeAzizi) December 24, 2015
- Ultimately, this was a nice but forgettable win for the Warriors. Clearly, their focus is on the upcoming Christmas Day game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Let's hope their defensive intensity carries on throughout the rest of the season.
- We all can't wait to see Harrison Barnes back so that the rotations can finally be straightened out. Until he returns, maybe Walton can experiment with playing Rush or Iguodala at the 4 when the starters sit, just to get better spacing and shooting on the court. With Brandon Rush playing well enough to deserve regular minutes, he should be a factor off the the bench once Harrison returns, which adds a previously unseen wrinkle to the Warriors' depth.
- Did I mention that the Warriors play the Cavs on Friday?