From Roland Lazenby's piece last season, the most fascinating part about the Golden State Warriors' incredible and surprising dominance remained that they were simply scratching the surface of a scheme that stood to become even more improved.
And once the season began, the ball flew around the court, left to right, up and down, from all angles and from every single player. Often that led to turnovers, but even more so, it led to moments of brilliance etched across streaks of scintillating shooting and passing. The Golden State Warriors offense was and is the prettiest show in the world.
And it's getting better.
On Monday night, the Warriors kept alive the world's greatest show, all while subsisting less on Stephen Curry's theatrics and relying on the concept of team movement, spacing, and the sum of all fears. The final score was 111-103 but it never really felt that close, nor did the Miami Heat defense ever really do much to stop the unrelenting waves of movement and cutting the Warriors unleashed on them.
The stats themselves weren't as gaudy as perhaps the way I'm writing this. The Warriors were out-assisted by the Miami Heat, who hit 30. However, on the season itself, the Warriors have 19 games with 30 or more assists. The second place team has seven - that would be everyone's favorite passing team, the San Antonio Spurs. Steve Kerr and the coaching staff weren't just biased when they said a second layer and level would be hit when familiarity started to breed comfort. The two are starting to merge and create an almost second nature offensive scheme.
When I asked Steph about how they are incorporating the backcuts has helped their offense, "When teams start to overplay, you need to have that as an option to keep them honest. You don't want to force shots, you want to be secure with those looks and not force the ball. Having those outlets is huge."
Curry admitted at a home game after the long road trip that GSW was perhaps relying on him a little too much and that there were players open because other teams focused on his gravity with reckless abandon. Since then, Curry has lessened his aggressiveness especially coming off screens and his quick trigger in transition. Of course, the leg injuries slowed him down a bit but most of it seemed explained away by the Warriors necessity to move the ball amongst themselves and incorporating not just other players but the notion that the more movement off the spacing created by their shooters, that the entire team full of high-IQ players would make it work.
And there lies the uniqueness with which the Warriors can attack other teams. The Heat outplayed them at times but Gerald Green, Justise Winslow's rookie-ness, Dwyane Wade's need to post up, all added up to sloppy mistakes at inopportune moments, especially on their defense. The Warriors are built to attack that with all facets of their team, and it has never been more obvious than when Andrew Bogut sets up at the mid-post, waits for Curry to set a screen for Klay Thompson at the FT line, and runs a dive route to the cup like a wide receiver for a wide open layup.
When I asked Luke Walton how they are incorporating backcuts into their offense and the difference from last season, "We ran it last year. We tried to run more of it. It's repitition, it's how you get better at this game. You just keep doing it over and over. We do it in practice, we try to do it in games. We were I think 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on plays we called out of timeouts, with back picks in them in the first half tonight."
And we finally end with Draymond Green's ultimate transition from the third quarterback in the offense last season (behind Steph and Bogut) to full-fledged whirling machine ball of genius, especially in transition. Green flew down in transition, perched in a crouch, went straight to the tin at Chris Bosh, before leaping up, pivoting in midair, seemingly with eyes behind his head, and nailing Curry with a dime for a transition 3. Backcuts this, backcuts that, at the end of the day, this is the most intelligent team on the floor in the NBA. And it shows night in and night out.
"We just consistently try to remind our guys because of how good they are and how dangerous they are shooting, their guys don't ever want to leave them," said Walton. "If they can get that constant movement with the playmakers we have and the shooting we have, we are tough to stop."