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Warriors mix it up in win over Heat

Without Thompson, Golden State uses defense and a variety of rotations to hold off a gritty Miami squad.

NBA: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Warriors’ offense was not nearly as potent without the presence of Klay Thompson, whose sharpshooting prowess keeps defenses honest. But Golden State proved it can still win basketball games with depth and defense.

And a dash of timely offensive execution in crunch time, of course.

The usual suspects led the way for the Dubs. Stephen Curry had a well-rounded floor game, finishing with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. Kevin Durant added 28 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Draymond Green contributed 13 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

Head Coach Steve Kerr seized the opportunity to play around with some different lineups and rotations with Thompson resting. “Kind of what I talked about all season about experimenting,” Kerr said after the game. “Different combinations are good to look at, to see what they bring.”

Rather than staggering Curry’s and Durant’s minutes early on, Kerr left Green in with the second-string lineup to start the second quarter, which is usually anchored by Durant.

The rotation with Green, David West, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark created a noticeable defensive presence.

“They changed the game with their defense,” Kerr said of the lineup. “A lot of length and versatility defensively. They turned the game in our favor with their play during that stretch.”

This second unit grabbed the lead for the Warriors and didn’t bother to look back.

Iguodala’s improved play as of late continues to solidify the bench for Golden State. Over his last six games, the 2015 Finals MVP has recorded a 20:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. If you’re curious, this is really good.

“I think he’s in a good groove,” Kerr said of Iguodala. “The last couple of games he’s played really well.”

Kerr also decided to stick with a big on the floor in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter, which is traditionally Small-Ball Death Lineup time. This move was likely to offset the monster game of Hassan Whiteside, who finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds on 13-of-17 shooting from the field.

Despite Whiteside’s big performance, Golden State still managed to out-rebound Miami 48-45 and improve to 20-0 on the season when out-rebounding an opponent.

The Warriors have been nearly impossible to beat in the Steve Kerr era when defense is the team’s focal point. Dating back to the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Golden State is 79-1 in games in which opponents fail to break the century mark.

Andrew Flohr is the credentialed writer for GSoM. You can follow him at every game on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

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