Date: Tuesday Jan. 23, 2018
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Oracle Arena—Oakland, CA
Radio: 95.7 The Game
Buddy Blog/Enemy Blog: Posting and Toasting
Golden State: Andre Iguodala (questionable, left calf), Jordan Bell (out, ankle)
New York: N/A
The Story of the Splash Bros.
We hold these truths to be self evident that the Warriors never lose two in a row. Saturday night’s loss in Houston was dispiriting and the team probably didn’t deserve to win. That’s okay. Tonight, the Dubs are finally back in the Bay, ready to face the New York Knicks.
Stephen Curry has six turnovers or more in only six games this season (he averages 3.2 turnovers a game). For context, Russell Westbrook averages 4.6 turnovers a game. In both games last week, Curry turned the ball over six times. I don’t really care about the high number, given his innumerable contributions to the team. That said, it’s worth observing how Curry responds. After scouring through Basketball Reference, it’s clear that Curry (almost) never has games like he did on Saturday: a poor shooting percentage, a high turnover rate, and a negative +/-. Boston, Oklahoma City, and Houston are the only three teams to coax Curry into negatives for all three stats this season.
So what does this mean? The Knicks are in for the Curry treatment. Offense won’t get easier for Curry as he’ll deal with counterpart Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks’ rookie point guard. Despite his early offensive woes, Ntilikina is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. “Franky Smokes” is still coming off the bench, but has a bright future. Us mortals should watch how Curry bounces back after Saturday. We should expect carefulness with the ball from Curry whether or not he’s hitting the shots,
Klay Thompson had his hands full on Saturday guarding James Harden and Chris Paul and never found a solid offensive rhythm. He also took a few silly shots at the end of the game with Kevin Durant open. Thompson is not one to get in his own head, but he’ll also be anxious to find his offense as he did against Chicago. With Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee likely guarding Thompson, look for him to find some open shots early.
At the end of the Houston loss, Draymond Green barked at Thompson for his shot selection. Playing at home, against a mediocre New York team, should work wonders for the Warriors team chemistry (not that it was ever bad).
In New York you can be a new man
The best player on the Knicks is Kristaps Porzingis. And it’s not even close. Like Giannis Antetokounmpo though, Porzingis won’t have free range against the Warriors because of Kevin Durant, a perfect defensive matchup for Golden State. Porzingis could still toss up 30. In the age of the unicorn though, Durant provides a safety valve for the Warriors defensively.
Given Jordan Bell’s absence and Golden State’s rebounding struggles against Houston, the Warriors might be more concerned about Enes Kanter. The jovial, confrontational, and talented Turk is an enigma but is having his best NBA season to date. He’s passing more than ever, rebounding on both ends, and hitting a staggering 86% of his free throws. Kanter can even boast a career-high 1.3 VORP. He’s no Bill Russell, but he possesses a skill-set that could create some extra possessions for New York if this game is closer than the Warriors expect.
Kanter is a complicated figure. Like a circa-1804 Aaron Burr catalyzing conflicts in the streets of Manhattan, Kanter is willing to stoke any fire on or off the basketball court. He’s on no one’s side, yet is adamant about defending his teammates. He talks smack, but whispers sweet nothings in the ears of opponents. Through it all, including his home country of Turkey wanting to lock him up, I’m here for the Enes Kanter show.
After his trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Knicks, he left a parting message for the Thunder: “Please beat the Warriors for me.” (Enes, just stop) If the Dubs pick up technical fouls in this game, don’t let Enes Kanter be the instigator.
Also, pray for Trey Burke.