Halfway through the game, it became obvious that the Golden State Warriors would be in one of those really annoying games where the opposing team keeps hitting shots to stop almost-runs, your team would miss weird layups at inopportune times, and Rodney Stuckey would hit a bank three at the buzzer and pose after like LeBron James. Sometimes these things happen. The Indiana Pacers gladly played the role of annoying, prickish, Eastern Conference team today.
Then a funny thing happened. I didn't really care for the final score. I'm sometimes a self-absorbed person. Stephen Curry winning MVP would mean nothing to me, personally, but to everyone else around these parts, something as close to a championship as possible. And a loss to the barely playoff team that has less above-average offensive scoring than the New York Knicks without their best player really helps that guy in the suit.
Klay Thompson scored 39 points on an array of impressive shots, even one over and around Roy Hibbert, but was a volume shooter at 12-28 from the field. Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut struggled without their usual assortment of open shots. There were no doubles or triples off of pick-and-rolls. The Pacers rushed at Klay on certain PNRs but the Warriors don't set up the offense in that manner when Curry is out. Interestingly enough, they used Bogut even more as the offensive fulcrum, having Thompson run off the screens while Bogut waited and waited for cutters. Curry's absence forced Shaun Livingston and Harrison Barnes to run into each other without the spacing. It was not pretty, but also very predictable.
Now the Warriors are 43-10 with the loss and still firmly in control of first place despite the upcoming long road trip. The loss doesn't much change things in terms of outlook. If anything, it got Stephen Curry even more cache as a vital component on a team that many has hailed as deep and offensively gifted despite some aging vets and the total lack of shooting at times. These are things that we know. Sunday afternoon games, though, are also things that no voters will likely know about. As the long season rolls along, Kerr will bench Curry for rest reasons. All evidence has pointed to Kerr being not only a smart coach but a clever PR person. Here's thinking he sits Curry on national TV games so the media sees what he means to the team.
1. Shaun Livingston was not good in the first half. He was hesitant shooting and passing. He threaded the needle to Bogut but beyond that, provided next to nothing on offense. Defense matters but the Warriors are fine on that end and they need some type of creation on the playmaking side. That type of ineptitude explains how Leandro Barbosa gets run despite average shooting. Livingston was better in the second half but so far, his debut season as a Warrior has been disappointing.
2. Steve Kerr didn't bring Klay Thompson back in the fourth quarter until the 6-minute mark. Thompson played 37 minutes but easily could have topped 40. Kerr resisted and the Warriors came back with their best defensive lineup and shooter in the game. Thompson hit a jumper almost immediately. The extra rest for Thompson and restraint on Kerr's part was impressive. It's going to be a long road trip. You don't have to go all-out in winning every game.
3. Neither Draymond Green nor David West shot well from the field. But it was fun watching Green battle the much larger West on defense. West backed Green down for a hook shot in the early moments of the first half but did not score again until the fourth quarter. Green was able to recover on numerous pick-and-pop situations and refused to allow West easy position on the block. This game is another reason why I am less worried about Green's size against bigger post guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, and Boris Diaw. Now about that three point shooting..
The Golden State Warriors continue their road trip playing against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday at 4:00 PM.