Fresh off of an impressive road win in Atlanta (and a less impressive road loss at the Augusta National Gold Club, home of the Masters), perhaps the Golden State Warriors rolled into Miami feeling a bit too good despite emerging with a 118-112 win.
The Miami Heat soon reminded the Bay's Team of its own mortality whilst chucking up a 30-21 first quarter beat-down.
Things went from bad to worse, as future hall-of-famer Dwyane Wade, designated-enigma-of-the-year Hassan Whiteside and the Heat rolled up a 12-point advantage in the middle of the second quarter. At the time, both Wade and Whiteside were 5-of-5 from the floor, and the Warriors defense was left grasping at straws.
Things didn't go much better for Golden State on the other end of the hardwood -- at least in the first half. Miami played physical defense on Curry and the Dubs, forcing them to 42% shooting for the first quarter. The combination of Miami's impressive rim protection and forceful perimeter defense was, at times, too much for the Warriors. The referees were content to allow a very "grabby" game, as Stephen Curry was absolutely ridden by players like Josh Richardson (ye of a 4.08 PER), who is apparently related to Seattle Seahawks corner back Richard Sherman.
But Golden State rallied to make a game of it. The Warriors would trail by three to begin the fourth quarter, while the aforementioned Richardson and Goran Dragic kept the Heat offense afloat. After the midway point, it was Hassan Whiteside who returned from the bench to do yeoman's work inside. But the Splash Brothers were too much. The All-Star duo combined for 75 points on 54 shots, including a silky 10-of-20 from three-point range. Harrison Barnes added 11 points, and even played center!
Until the very last minute, both teams traded punches like contenders should be expected to. But the difference? A stone cold dagger through Hassan Whiteside's fingertips: Stephen Curry launched a rocket three from deep over Whiteside's extended arm to ice it.
Like so many times this season, tonight's game was a tale of a team of talented professionals (Miami) stepping up to the plate to deliver an awesome performance. But as we've seen 51 times this season -- it wasn't quite enough to stop the Golden State Warriors.
Anderson Varejao...let's give him a while to fit in, shall we?
Euphemisms like physical and forceful are just that: euphemisms. Miami was smart enough to beat the crap out of Stephen Curry tonight -- NBA referees need to be good enough to call fouls when they happen. Or not, when they don't.
Hassan Whiteside was beastly off the bench, racking up 21-and-13. Probably not a guy you want angry before a big game, Draymond Green.
Klay Thompson may be one of those guys who just plays better when he's banged up. One eye? Concussion? Hogwarts Scar down the forehead?
These are the kind of nights that make you wonder: how on earth have the Warriors gone 51-5 when every team in the Association is (apparently) capable of smashing anyone and anything every single game?
The Warriors return to action tomorrow, to play the Orlando Magic. Hopefully it isn't this close.