Of course the one day I actually write a preview for a Golden State Warriors game and try to wax poetic on the daily excellence of Stephen Curry and friends, they come out and lay a stinker on national TV. The downside of being spoiled by superb basketball is the ensuing shock that comes when a team fails to put a team away in the latter stages of the first half - or, in other words, go on a 15-0 run nearly on command because the other team is simply that bad. The Lakers are usually that bad, but on ESPN, they were up to the challenge.
Ed Davis anticipated to perfection on weak-side defense, Jordan Clarkson stuck on Stephen Curry like a baby kangaroo to a pouch, Jordan Hill made a three, and Jeremy Lin got to the line 10 times. As I get my Fitz on here, the Lakers played a near-perfect game while the Warriors played an awful one.
Klay Thompson sprained his ankle in the third quarter and hobbled to the finish line, getting almost zero lift on layup attempts (getting one blocked by Hill), and missing 12 of his 22 shot attempts. Stephen Curry couldn't get much separation from the incessant double and triple-teams. With the Warriors clinching a playoff spot before halftime even hit, Steve Kerr's coach looked like they were ready for it to start more than the exhibition shows they were playing.
There are games that you can specifically throw away from a strategic and gameplay standpoint. This is one of them. It's uncharacteristic to have Curry turn the ball over so much in the first half, and six times in total because it never happens when this team is focused enough as a team. It might seem a little ridiculous to say even though the Warriors are, as most are ready to mention, not yet done anything in the scope of the postseason.
But 82 games is a very long time. We can instead micro-analyze certain things: Festus Ezeli might have surpassed David Lee in the rotation; Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala create havoc and are a joy to watch when Thompson or Curry can spread the floor with them; Draymond Green's seven steals and a spectacularly aware swipe at the ball as the game ended knowing that the Lakers were forced to shoot; and Andrew Bogut is healthy and in rhythm enough to nonchalantly drop between-the-leg passes several times in a single possession.
Then there are the slightly bad things that sometimes go awry in a season and manufacture themselves in these types of games: Harrison Barnes will still vanish and has shown less-than-realized feel for the game (most specifically during an acrobatic finish around Jordan Hill where someone, say Draymond Green, would have tried to yam it on his head); David Lee's forever-awful defense that I may have thought he turned around with a few blocks in the beginning of the season; James MIchael McAdoo's failed five-minute stint with the starters; and Klay Thompson's tunnel vision at times.
These are all just things, though. Minute details that have ensconced itself into a 53-13 start that boggles the mind. The Warriors are 30-2 at home, making what appears to be home-court advantage throughout the postseason perhaps the greatest reward the Warriors could have ever given to their long-suffering fans.
The East-leading Atlanta Hawks, sans Kyle Korver, come visit Oracle Arena on Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M.