My college buddy J.R. is in town from Miami visiting the Bay with his wife, and one of their first requests (along with Pier 39 and a medical dispensary visit) was to check out the world champs in Oracle. I woefully lamented that they wouldn’t be able to see the full strength Warriors as Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Shaun Livingston were injured.
J.R. rolled his eyes as his wife snarkily chimed in, “Oh, so we are forced to settle for watching only TWO All-Stars like KD and Klay, huh? You must be so disappointed!”
Fair point. The Warriors are so stacked on paper that complaining about only suiting up two of the top 20 NBA players as opposed to five does seem rather preposterous.
Still, I was curious how the Warriors would handle the Nets with three primary ball-handlers out. Last night’s win gave me some answers to that question, while providing an entertaining show for my Floridian friends.
Let’s muse some gold-blooded domination, as the Warriors ripped the Nets, 116-100.
KD ensures the Warriors can play any style
When these teams previously met in October, it felt like a three-point shooting contest at the All-Star game. The Warriors jacked up 33 (making 11), while the Nets knocked down 20 of their 42 attempts from distance.
Last night, with Curry missing, the Warriors style of play morphed into a methodical probing for the closest, best shot. They attempted a relatively meager 16 triples (making 7), with Durant setting the tone in that regard, with only 2 of his 15 shot attempts coming from deep. He operated from the mid-range and the post, bullying smaller defenders, and dancing around bigger ones.
He toyed with Brooklyn’s help defense, baiting them to rush over and assist whichever one of their defenders he was torturing in isolation. If they took the lure, he found an open teammate repeatedly, racking up 11 assists. If they decided to defend him 1-on-1, KD routinely demonstrated a masterclass in how to incinerate an NBA defender.
He was aggressive in inviting contact to draw fouls, going a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line. I credit KD for helping the Warriors offense sustain itself on free throw trips whenever the long jumpers aren’t falling (something Harrison Barnes never quite got the hang of).
With KD setting the standard, the rest of the Warriors followed suit, patiently searching for cracks in Brooklyn’s wearied defense (they played the night before in a tough win vs Denver). The champs can assume so many different forms in order to get the W, and this methodical beatdown was just another shining example.
That’s probably a big reason the champs have a 51-12 record following losses under the Steve Kerr era.
Cook steps in for Chef Curry (again)
Quinn Cook went bonkers. After receiving spotty playing time this season as head coach Steve Kerr unleashed Curry early on this season, Cook had no problem stepping in for the injured starter. Curry’s understudy put on a Curry-like performance, turning in a hyper efficient 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, making 3-of-5 from downtown, with 5 assists and 0 turnovers.
At halftime, he was 7-of-8 from the field for 19 points. My pal J.R. remarked glowingly at the time, “Damn, you can take anybody off of the street and put them in a Warriors jersey and they can’t be stopped!” LOL.
Quinn had it all working tonight.— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 11, 2018
27 PTS // 3 3PM // 5 AST pic.twitter.com/7jL4Jk7aaa
I noticed that Nets attempted to bait Cook into bad shots by sagging off of him early on. He patiently scooted to spots he felt comfortable, and daggered them from long range. Then, when they attempted to get into his airspace, he calmly shook his defenders lose with strong footwork and buried jumpers from the mid range.
Even the visitors had to take note of the damage Cook delivered: “You had Durant and Thompson, and (Cook) did a Curry imitation tonight,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You could argue he made the difference tonight. He really scored the ball well.”
This is why Kerr handed Cook the keys to the offense in spurts last season when Curry was derailed by injuries in the second half of the season. This is also why Kerr threw Cook out into the fire last postseason against the Houston Rockets. The team believes in his steady presence, and needs him to contribute in order to ensure the point guard position is still a place of strength regardless of who is out there.
Weaponized Joy on Filipino Heritage Night
The Warriors and the Filipino community, both in the Bay Area and around the world, have a tight bond. Last night, we celebrated “Filipino Heritage Night” in Oakland, and the energy in the building was off of the charts.
When the champs came out for warmups, the building erupted like Stone Cold Steve Austin was coming out defend the WWF title. My guests watched Klay Thompson with rapt fascination as he drilled shot-after-shot-after-shot-after-shot in the pregame shootaround.
There’s a symbiotic component to the Warriors and Oracle that truly needs to be experienced to be understood. Every time the Warriors make a good play, an energy blast radiates out from the court, into the stands, and up the walls of the building, crawling up to the rafters where the banners rest.
Those vibrations are then absorbed by Dub Nation’s bloodlust, who feed on it, ratcheting up their jubilation to maniacal levels. That fever pitch of pleasure and encouragement transmits back to the court, where the Warriors consume it and turn into basketball sadists, torturing their opponent with beautiful exhilaration.
There was a particular moment where Cook was stuck dribbling with the shot clock ticking down towards zero. The entire building, well aware of time and situation, let out a rising, siren-like, warning roar that seemed to tangibly fill the arena with encouraging vibrations to alert Cook that he had to make a play.
Sure enough, he gave an impressive dribble move to free himself for an off-balance fallaway jumper that cashed out at the buzzer. The arena EXPLODED.
This is Quinn Cook's game pic.twitter.com/TEKJrXOJrW— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 11, 2018
Cook grinned and shot a knowing glance toward the Warriors jubilant bench, before trotting back on defense with the confidence of a beloved gladiator. I took in a moment to soak up the pandemonium, as grateful tears threatened to well up in my eyes.
There’s been a few nights in the last couple years where it felt like Oracle was losing that level of love for the team; I’d be interested to hear from the Dub Nation community in the comments below as to why y’all believe that is.
But last night, that feeling was all the way back. I want to give a big shout out to the loud and proud Filipino fan base who helped to make sure that Oracle was lit last night! #townbiz