Don’t call it a tale of two halves: it was more of a sandwich.
Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors sandwiched a rancid second and third quarter with a sharp offensive first quarter and a delicious fourth quarter. That resulted in a tense, stressful 106-104 victory at Oracle.
In the first quarter, it was Klay Thompson who had the lethal three-shooter locked and loaded at Oracle. The Splash Brother hit three longballs on three consecutive first quarter possessions to take the roof off. That flurry staked the Dubs to an early lead.
It was the Warriors’ defense that got the offense moving. Transition opportunities from steals gave the Dubs a number of opportunities to run — and while the defense was broken in transition, they consistently found the hot Klay Thompson on the wing to make the 76ers pay.
Unfortunately, that defensive intensity didn’t last. The Dubs ultimately surrendered 34 points in the first quarter to the 76ers, and 90 to the lowly 76ers through three quarters in Oakland. Philadelphia bigs Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric consistently danced through the Warriors defense for buckets in the paint.
The Warriors’ offense, choked of transition opportunities and forced to play in the half court against a set defense, managed just 43 points in the second and third quarters, combined. For a long stretch, it was the visitors who looked like the poised championship contender. Meanwhile, the Dubs experienced lapses on defense, allowing wide open cuts and doubling the wrong man — the type of things Steve Kerr’s Warriors rarely do.
Draymond Green changed that in the fourth quarter. With the Dubs down 12 to start the fourth period, Green and the Warriors held the 76ers to a measly 14 points. The Warriors, who shot just 36.8% as a team on the night, just barely got enough points to put the 76ers away.
Although they needed some volume to do it, the other Warriors chipped in the win. Stephen Curry had 29 points, six rebounds and five assists. Klay Thompson added 28 points, and Matt Barnes had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Processes you can trust
- Whenceforth tonight is Stephen Curry’s birthday game. And lo, if they won’t feast on the three point shot, let them eat cake! The reigning MVP has never scored fewer than 25 points on his birthday in four instances.
- Dario Saric is the Rookie of the Year. The guy already looks like a reliable veteran whether scoring or filling up the stat sheet. It should be wrapped up by now.
- Speaking of filling up a stat sheet, no one does it better than Draymond Green. As long as you don’t worship the number ten, that is. Tonight was particularly impressive: 20 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals (and if you are the type to worship the number ten, note that Draymond Green again had 10+ steals and blocks).
- Matt Barnes had an easy opportunity to run out the clock with several seconds left, but he missed a contested dunk and gave the 76ers one last shot to tie. Fortunately, Draymond Green was smart enough to foul Saric, preventing a tying three point attempt.
- The Warriors shot a ridiculous 14-of-32 from three, and yet they only won by two at home. That’s just tragic.