The Golden State Warriors flew north to Vancouver, British Columbia to take on the Toronto Raptors in the first game of the 2016 preseason. The long-awaited Warriors debut for Kevin Durant, as well as the first on-court Warriors action since the Finals that Shall Not be Named.
And it went about as smoothly as you might expect for a team that has never played a game together. The Warriors lost game one of the preseason to the Raptors, 97-93.
The new-look Dubs lacked the polish and flair of last season’s 73-win juggernaut. The starters were more choppy than fluid, less decisive and a hair slow on their cuts and passes. Like playing one-on-one with your favorite player in your own driveway, it was still basketball. But only in the most general sense.
This was all to be expected: early preseason games are sloppy by NBA standards; more so for teams that have experienced significant roster turnover from the year before. For Golden State, Saturday’s matinee was all about getting on the court and building some cohesion.
Klay Thompson led all scorers with 16 points, and Kevin Durant added nine points and four rebounds on just 2-of-9 shooting. DeMarre Carroll scored 14 points to lead the Raptors.
The star Warriors players (Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green (*inhales*) and Andre Iguodala) each sat out the second half.
By the way...
- Suprise! Zaza Pachulia is good, but he’s not Andrew Bogut. At least offensively, there wasn’t much to see as far as passing and directing traffic. As far as setting screens, this game was lacking in bone crunching Aussie-rules football screens that Warriors fans have come to appreciate.
- Like the Miami Heat in 2010 (year one of the “Big Three” era), there was a lot of standing and watching on offense, as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson took turns chucking long jumpers. The effortless cutting and moving of Kerr’s triangle-ish motion offense will come with time. I hope.
- Having three offensive maestros like Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson gives Steve Kerr a lot of room to get creative with rotations. Tonight, he pulled Durant halfway through the first quarter, and brought him back on minutes later in relief of Curry. If the Warriors can keep one or two all-NBA talents on the floor at all times, they will be a nightmare.
- There were more than a couple Vancouver Grizzlies jerseys in the audience. Bryant “Big Country” Reeves forever, yo.
- The Warriors wore jerseys with a “42” on the shoulder strap in memory of the great center, Nate Thurmond.