Stephen Curry's first made shot of the night came off of a fake backdoor cut where Curry flipped the ball to Andrew Bogut, received it back about 4 feet beyond the arc, and drained a 3 before Tony Parker could attach himself back to him, with David West looking on in disbelief.
We've seen that play over and over again. DeAndre Jordan stays nailed to the ground. Tristan Thompson is never too far out. Anthony Davis is perpetually exasperated. Clint Capela and Dwight Howard don't even try. Now, David West, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, what's the difference?
And from there, the Golden State Warriors sprinted out of the gates and only slowed down when they lapped the San Antonio Spurs, kicking dust into fossils, and having it all culminate into a 30-point 120-90 victory.
The game itself didn't mean anything, Steve Kerr admitted so after the game. While Gregg Popovich had a few funny quips in saying his team played like boys against men, here's thinking he isn't going to lose much sleep over it. The Spurs put on the facade that they don't care, or won't care, at least until caring matters. The Golden State Warriors don't bother to act like they're too cool for this type of school.
They live for this. They love this.
As Kerr said after the game, "They're a pretty cocky group. In a good way though...They corral that arrogance."
Draymond's response to whether that is true? "100 percent."
Enter laughter from the media room.
Take a few steps over to the locker room and we see the liveliest sight in the season. And to be completely frank, much more boisterous than those after last season's big games and even the wins in the postseason. There was singing, dancing, and a feeling amongst the players that it wasn't so much a weight lifted off their shoulders, but the sense that no one and nothing can even touch them in this time.
When asked if there was something of a glint in Curry's eye before a game like this, Draymond commented that, "I knew before the game, I knew yesterday, he was ready to go. When he hit that 3 from 27 feet out, it confirmed it."
Asked about momentum built from the Panthers? "Stephen Curry momentum."
Though the Spurs walked into Oracle Arena with the best defense, the best net rating of all time, and the tag by some as the best team in the league despite the champion status of the Warriors, the Spurs had no answer for this style. The Warriors' peak is higher than the Spurs could ever dream, higher than anyone in the history of the game could ever dream.
When the machine is in full throttle, when the fans gasp and rise as one on every single three, forced turnover, and pass, these Warriors enter a level unparalleled in this world and any other. One historic defense started the game. Once that game started, the other team ripped apart that defense while cloning that all-time defense on their own end. Bogut affected every Tony Parker drive, Draymond walked Aldridge into the seats on every play, and Curry wreaked havoc in the passing lanes. Draymond even admitted he had to ask out of the game for the first time in his career because he had to guard LMA and chase Kawhi Leonard in the same possession.
As Draymond said about how he guarded LMA, "One thing I know I got on him is speed. If I let him get to his spot, he's going to shoot on top of me. I just need to put pressure on him. I've played better defense on him and he's dropped 35 on me."
On offense, the Warriors pulled off a trick from the Spurs, but with a twist. Instead of passing and passing sideways until someone showed up wide open, the Warriors went vertical, ripping the Spurs defense with backcuts, misdirection cuts, and a whole host of transition runs. It culminated with Curry causing Kawhi to slip on a fake-cut, stepping back after a pumpfake and draining a J over an exasperated Leonard contest.
Kerr took a page out of Tex Winter's book in explaining the constant movement on and off the ball: "Go away from pressure. Don't go into pressure."
The Warriors never forced the ball side to side. They turned it over 21 times, but they were the kind that Kerr likes, with a team running 110 percent, not forcing passes but trying the high-risk/high-reward ones that has gotten the team this far, this great, and just that explosive.
On Monday night, in a game that was described as the "Game of the Millennium" or at least some iteration of an important contest, the Warriors ruled the entire notion moot. The Spurs benched Tim Duncan and Pop presumably didn't unveil his most effective strategies, it probably didn't matter. Though it is a bit curious why the Spurs would keep slow-playing when home-court advantage would seem important for a team with so many role players (who play better at home) and coming off a Game 7 loss on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Two championship teams went head-to-head at Oracle Arena. One proved their best is reaching unprecedented levels of dominance, the other looking a normally elite team. And this year, unlike any year before seen, the Spurs' best might keep them searching for more. They certainly were Monday night.