After a week of tusslin’ with some potentially playoff bound Northwestern Division teams, the back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors got to meet up with one of their Pacific Division mates.
And what a vigorous beating it was. The Warriors throttled the Phoenix Suns, 123-103, on the second night of a back-to-back. It was a much needed win after a two-point loss in Denver the night before. It was also the champs’ first blowout of the young season; I had almost forgotten what it was like to see Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant chillin’ on the bench for the entire final period.
Let’s check out these four gold-blooded observations from the easy W.
Steph Curry is a man on a mission
The greatest point guard alive flexed his muscle on poor Phoenix to the tune of 29 points on 61% shooting, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. All that was done in only three quarters.
Curry has been on a tear to start this season, and Phoenix could do nothing to avoid being incinerated by his unique greatness. As you can see from this next graphic, Curry has put up MVP-type numbers on the first four teams the champs have run into this year. He’s currently averaging 30.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists.
His numbers from beyond the arc are even more prolific than usual to start the season. He’s been lighting up the scoreboard from three-point range at a rate that even surpasses his accomplishments from the 73-win season.
He’s at the apex of his powers, toying with defenses, controlling the pace. He’s so confident he can get a shot off anytime he wants, it looks like he’s just waiting for the maximum level of humiliation he can inflict on an opponent on any given possession.
Booker's legs didn't know what to do. pic.twitter.com/JaKd8Hbk49— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 23, 2018
Klay Thompson: Defensive Stopper and Iron Man
The Android of Splash is working his way out of his annual early season shooting funk. After four games, Thompson is a Westbrookian 3-of-22 from beyond the arc. We should be used to Thompson using the beginning of the year to find his hot streak, though.
Connor Letorneau of the SF Chronicle shared the champs’ thoughts on Thompson’s initial difficulties knocking down shots from distance: “It is hardly cause for concern, however, for a team accustomed to seeing Thompson shoot himself out of early ruts.Before shooting 43.3 percent from three-point range in November 2015, he was 3-for-12 in the Warriors’ first three games. In 2016, Thompson shot 14.3 percent from deep in October, only to shoot 40.5 percent from there in November.”
But what most people may miss when they are wringing their hands over Thompson’s momentary cold streaks is the consistency of his lock-down defense and durability. Thompson is routinely entrusted with slowing the opponent’s best scorer, and last night that guy was young scoring phenom Devin Booker.
Thompson flustered and swarmed the youngster, and helped the Dubs’ force him into nine turnovers. Thompson refused to bite on pump fakes or crossovers, staying attached to Booker like a doberman on a steak.
For the second time tonight, Klay gets up into Booker to force the turnover pic.twitter.com/b2hngKwDA7— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) October 23, 2018
Ray Ratto opined about Klay’s defense for NBC Bay Area: “He played his usual creditable defense, not only against a usual suspect like Devin Booker, but also a few turns against precocious big man Deandre Ayton and spot-up shooter Ryan Anderson. This, after defending Utah’s Donovan Mitchell to distraction three days earlier – it’s what Thompson is, and what Thompson does.”
Thompson started off steady by making half of his 10. shots in the first two quarters, and finished 6-of-14 from the field before twisting his ankle. Although the ankle twist looked pretty bad on camera and forced him out of the game, it appears Thompson is gonna be just fine.
Kerr isn’t concerned about Klay Thompson’s ankle sprain. Thompson told him he could have gone back in the game.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) October 23, 2018
Bench mob beginning to form
Jonas Jerebko continues to make an impression on Dub Nation, tallying 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 21 minutes. Most impressively was the courage he showed in shooting the deep ball, knocking down 3-of-5 attempts. “JJ” is going to win us a playoff game or two if he continues to embed himself into the rotation.
Regular season Jonas Jerebko is so much better than training camp Jonas Jerebko— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 23, 2018
But Jerebko wasn’t the only one making a strong impression from the Dubs’ bench. Blow outs provide much needed garbage time, allowing role players and end-of-rotation guys opportunities to see some live rounds. Alfonzo McKinnie got in on the action, chipping in 10 points and 7 rebounds, and even knocking down a triple of his own.
If those two can provide timely offense and hustle plays, it bolsters the champs’ rotations until DeMarcus Cousins can return from his injury rehab. Kevon Looney once again took the majority of the big man rotation minutes, as Jordan Bell didn’t get into the game until it was well past decided in the fourth quarter.
In Bell’s nine minutes, he looked jittery and disjointed, as if he were rushing to make an impact as opposed to letting the game flow through him. The second year power forward has a bright future ahead, but it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff uses him going forward.
Kevin Durant smiles over his handiwork
KD normally reacts to big shots with scowls or deadpan assassin stares. But he had to chuckle after this preposterous play over Rockets castaway Trevor Ariza.
Durant catches a loose ball at half court with six seconds left, and somehow whirls his way all the way to the paint for an off-balance, lefty finish? Are you kidding me?! This dude is the definition of an NBA lethal weapon.