Golden State entered Monday's game against the Pelicans looking to "take care of business". According to the records, this game shouldn't have been close. It wasn't because the Pelicans have a bad team -- on paper the Pelicans are a victim of bad luck. They have a tough list of players hurt and disabled at this point of the season, and have been losing players since before the year even started. Poor Alvin Gentry, friend of the Bay, was dealt a shorted hand from the minute he landed in New Orleans, unable to overplay his one ace in Anthony Davis.
Before games like this, or the Phoenix game from over the weekend, people mention the words "trap game". This is when the favorite Warriors would fail to show up to handle the challenge, and get trapped into thinking the game will be easier than it would be (see: Lakers game). The Warriors properly avoided the trap game on Monday with a resounding 125-107 game that could have been a lot worse without the garbage time heroics of Ryan Anderson and Toney "He's still in the league?" Douglas. It was the type of game Golden State needed, and we put together a short list of things we liked about the game:
#1: The Warriors are scoring as a team, and that is a good sign down the stretch
James Michael McAdoo had 11 points last night. That is a blip on the radar of a Warriors season, however any time you can get your end-of-bench guy in double digits, you are in good shape. The Splash Brothers average about 50% of the Warriors points on any given night, and many times this year we wonder where that over 50% will come from. The points are there for the taking -- ask Mo Buckets how many shots he can find for himself on a given night. In a system like the Warriors have, you are rewarded for moving without the ball, playing in your spots and waiting for the pass. McAdoo will get more than his share of chances to contribute, and there is no reason he can't take advantage.
Last night was also a good sign for the starters looking to get their scoring back. Draymond Green had 14, but many of them were on the aggressive drives we are use to him taking. Personally, his three point shooting is found gold. There is no reason he can't drive and kick, make the correct decision every time, and average 8-10 assists a night. His line drive shot is so predicated on elevating off his jump shot, and if he shows any sign of fatigue, that shot is not going in. I hope he keeps up the aggression.
Overall, a great team effort tonight on the scoring end, with Curry only putting in 27. It still left 100 points for the rest of the roster, and on a night where every Warrior found the basket, it was a good sight to see.
#2: The defense on Anthony Davis was fantastic
Forget AD's box score -- 22 points, 12 rebounds. Look more at the efficiency: 6 of 20 from the field. He scored nearly half his points from the line, which is scary to think that AD is only going to get better as time goes on creating contact every time he touches the ball. Davis will settle for outside jumpers at times because he has the confidence to hit them. He plays like he knows he is taller than you are (he is) and can get his shot off whenever he can (he can). Draymond took on the challenge for most of the night, and simply let him fade away into his 15-footer. Others tried to play him physical, leading to a cascade to the line.
Anthony Davis is a beast. He should put up 30 points a night. You beat the Pelicans by making that 30 points as hard as it possibly can be to get, and letting the rest of the team struggle until he gets there. It pays to have two of the top five defensive players in the league on your team, as well as having a solid game plan going into a matchup to beat a specific player. The Warriors executed to perfection.
#3: Bogut's Three
It wasn't as much him hitting the three. It was the two things that happened afterwards:
#1: The reaction from the crowd
#2: The reaction from the bench
This team loves each other. The city of Oakland loves each other. It's a good time to be alive.
#4: Steph Curry's Third Quarter
The Warriors entered the second half hovering around a 10 point lead. They had allowed the Pelicans to keep in the game, even taking a lead in the second quarter. This is where championship teams put away lesser teams after making adjustments and taking over the momentum of the game.
Enter Steph Curry. I believe Curry recognized that this game was on the brink of coasting away. He had passed up many shots in the first half to help his teammates, but went into "kill" mode sensing that he could take the fourth quarter off. He began attacking more, taking more shots, and doing stuff like this:
ICYMI: The Warriors are just breaking basketball. 'Let's just pass the wide open layup for a contested three.'https://t.co/PyjU3BJoFz— OddsShark (@OddsShark) March 15, 2016
He came out on his birthday, fired up the home crowd, and finished the Pelicans by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. He ended up 10-16 from the field, including 4-9 from three. He was perfect around the rim, including some fantastic finishes avoiding AD in the lane. Davis took the task of covering him for most of the night, but simply couldn't keep up with him on his drives.
#5: Another night of 30 assists for the crew
The ball continues to move so beautifully on this team. Part of the great highlight above with the Leandro Barbosa-to-Curry three was that Barbosa passed up a wide open layup to get Curry his open corner shot. Much like fans in some town get free tacos when the team scores 100 points, the Warriors must get a team reward when hitting the 30 assists mark.
The impressive part was the distribution of assists. The only two players to not have an assist on the night were Klay (who played the sharpshooter role on his way to 18 points) and Andy Varejeao (who played the role of finisher). The rest of the team moved the ball well, including Mo Speights who had even 3 assists himself. The ball movement is contagious and will carry over, even when the shots are not falling from long range. As Steve Kerr said, "... lower the turnovers, make 5 more assists a game and you'll win a championship.
- This was the warmup game on the week on the way to a tough finish. Golden State hosts the Knicks on Wednesday before heading off the the great state of Texas for two tough games. New York periodically plays hard, but will be on the end of a west coast swing that saw them have to beat the Lakers at the buzzer. Could we see more 4th quarter rest for the starters?
- If you missed it, join our march madness pool! No money to play, and you get stuff if you win. How could you go wrong?