The Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 109-105 in a Saturday night matchup that featured two of the league’s preeminent point guards, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving.
Irving played an amazing game, scoring 37 points on a hyper-efficient 13-for-18 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the charity stripe. On another night against another opponent, those numbers alongside one of the league’s best defenses would typically equal a Celtics victory.
Unfortunately for Boston, Curry made Irving’s numbers look pedestrian, scoring 49 points in 37 minutes. Curry went 8-for-13 from beyond the arc and shot 9-for-10 on free-throws.
When he gets going, Curry is one of the most explosive offensive players in the game. Case in point, Irving scored an impressive 14 points in the first quarter. Curry scored 13 in the final 1:42 of the game.
Looking past the gaudy offensive numbers, another feat that stands out is the lone turnover Curry had in the stat line. A good sign on it’s own, but great news when coupled with a team total of only 11 turnovers.
But the Warriors aren’t always so careful with the rock. Which begs the question, how many turnovers is too many?
Turnover turning point
The Warriors’ trouble with turnovers is no new issue. For the past few seasons, despite the supreme talent that peppers Golden State’s roster, the team has had several lapses into sloppy play, marked with errant behind-the-back attempts and nonchalant entry passes.
It’s easy to see how turnovers can affect a team’s win-loss column. For the Warriors, a very interesting line exists regarding turnovers.
So far this season, when the Warriors keep their team turnovers to 16 or less, they are 33-4. But once their turnovers stray to 17 or more, they fall to 7-6.
This is a trend that is continuing from last season. In the 2016-2017 regular season, the Warriors were 52-8, when they had 16 or less turnovers and 15-7 when they had 17 or more turnovers.
In their 13 games of 17-plus turnovers this season, one of Golden State’s biggest offenders has been Draymond Green. Green is averaging 2.7 turnovers per game. In the Warriors’ high turnover games, Green’s average jumps to four per game.
As a point of comparison, the Philadelphia 76ers lead the league in turnovers with 18 per game. The top two culprits on the 76ers are Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, who are both averaging four per game.
And Green is not alone, as Curry and Kevin Durant also see spikes in their turnover rates in these high turnover games. This makes sense as Curry, Durant and Green are key facilitators for the Warriors.
The good news is, the Warriors’ turnover woes really just call for a bit more concentration. For example, turnovers from behind-the-back passes can be avoided by not attempting behind-the-back passes.
Furthermore, turnovers are an inevitable part of their pass-happy offense, but Golden State has shown that they don’t necessarily need to win the turnover battle versus their opponent. They really just need to ensure that they offer themselves enough opportunities for their offense to get off a shot.
As the rest of the season plays out, we’ll see if the magic number holds at 16.