Among the most frustrating things about the Golden State Warriors' loss to the Utah Jazz in the second round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs was that they were crushed on the offensive boards in key games.
As as an example, here's your semi-random NBA stat for the day: the Jazz still hold the all-time NBA Playoff record for offensive rebounding percentage in an overtime game (50%) from their Game 2 win against the Warriors in 2007, according to Basketball-Reference. It was the 25th best postseason offensive rebounding performance of all-time, no small feat when considering the number of playoff games played. And the Jazz had another game from that series that ranked 71st all-time.
At the time, the dominant offensive rebounding was one of the major things that separated the two teams and the Warriors from any talk of being elite: the Jazz were able to find easy buckets when the game was close in order to will their way to a win; that Warriors team, magical as they were, was simply incomplete and incapable of manufacturing the points needed to overcome certain circumstances.
This is obviously an entirely different era for the Warriors franchise from top to bottom, but the Warriors' rebounding performance last night in their 123-119 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans last night helps to show just how special this team might be.
This is what you get for trying, Pelicans
The Pelicans did everything they could to get to the postseason. Their reward was a crushing defeat.
In Game 3 against the Pelicans last night, the Warriors used some dominant offensive rebounding of their own to overcome 35.8% shooting through three quarters and a 20-point deficit on the road. In the fourth quarter alone, the Warriors pulled down 10 offensive rebounds to establish a 16-2 advantage in second chance points. In the fourth and overtime, that was 12 offensive rebounds to the Pelicans' 3 and an 19-2 advantage in second chance points. Unfortunately, records on those sort of numbers (most offensive rebounds in a quarter in a playoff game) are either not kept or left unpublished, but there's still some history around the point that can help us get a sense of how impressive that was.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Warriors' 22 offensive rebounds last night is the best for a playoff game decided in overtime in Warriors franchise history, which is not actually a big deal because they've only had five since 1985 (when offensive rebounding numbers are available). But it's tied for the 13th best performance in an overtime game in NBA Playoff history (since 1985) and seventh if you only count single overtime games.
Their 39.3% offensive rebounding percentage -- by far the more important number -- is considerably less impressive in the context of NBA history, but quite significant in the annals of Warriors history: it was the fourth-best offensive rebounding percentage in a playoff game in franchise history and best in an overtime playoff game. And even though it's just the fourth-best rebounding percentage in franchise playoff history, they had a better offensive rebounding percentage differential than any of those previous better games in Warriors history.
Acknowledging that Warriors playoff history since 1985 is, um, limited, this might be the important part: all of that came from a team that ranked 21st in the league in offensive rebounding percentage this season; it was the Warriors' best offensive rebounding performance of their entire 2014-15 NBA season.
That historical context on the rebounding front alone helps to add some statistical weight to the narrative that the Warriors demonstrated their will to win last night. They are a below average offensive rebounding team going against an Anthony Davis-led Pelicans team that ranked 13th in defensive rebounding percentage this season. And yet when they found themselves mired in a hole 20 points deep, they climbed their way out by turning in arguably the most memorable, if not the best quantitative, rebounding performance in franchise history when taking the full context into account.
The stats certainly help us put this in historical perspective, but it's the sum total of the statistical milestones, emotional roller coaster, and Steph Curry heroics that will make this one of the greatest playoff moments in Warriors history. As Draymond Green noted perfectly during his post-game remarks aired on CSN, "We won at home against Toronto last year down 27. This tops that: this is a playoff game on the road down 20 in the fourth quarter. To come back and win — that's amazing."
Coming full circle back to the point about being elite, the We Believe Warriors simply didn't have the tools — whether experience or personnel or versatility — to grit out a playoff win in the fashion they did last night. Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News did a good job of characterizing what last night's game says about this year's Warriors:
It was a signpost, though, and a glorious freeze-frame: This is what the Warriors can do even when they’re playing poorly, when things are bad, when a hostile crowd is sure the game is over… if Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and all the rest are still alive and still damn stubborn. It was a spontaneous message to the rest of the league: No lead is safe, no arena is too intimidating, at no time will the Warriors crumble just for crumbling’s sake.
Or as a (totally jealous) friend texted me in an even more concise fashion after the game last night, "Y'all gonna win the 'ship."
Thank the heavens and all powers that be that we no longer live in a time when you have to be there to watch a certain show or it's gone forever — anyone who missed that game has a chance to re-live it (and should).
Anyway, the Warriors made some other history tonight, or at least hit a number of milestones last night. The following is a quick rundown of those for the rest of you who might need some encouragement to go back and watch the game if you somehow missed it:
The Warriors earn their first win in the Shot Clock Era when trailing by 20+ entering the 4th frame (h/t @ESPNNBA), now 1-356 in those games— GSWStats (@gswstats) April 24, 2015
Warriors win it in overtime, 123-119, the first time they've had a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series since the 1975 NBA Finals— GSWStats (@gswstats) April 24, 2015
Stephen Curry: 1st Warriors players since Chris Mullin (1989) to have at least 35 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in a postseason game.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 24, 2015
And of course the most important thing:
In NBA history, teams with a 3-0 lead in a playoff series have gone on to win the series 100 percent of the time (110-0)— GSWStats (@gswstats) April 24, 2015
For more on the Warriors' spectacular comeback, check out our storystream.