Well balanced attack-and-defend strategy paid off for Golden State
From the opening whistle, it was clear that Golden State was taking this game seriously. With a fresh feel to the potential playoff picture this season, the Bucks have emerged as one of the main teams to watch. They’re still young enough that no one is sure just how good they’ll be come playoff time, but there’s no doubt that the team currently is one of the best in the NBA.
While most of the highlights are probably going to show the offense, it was the Warriors defense that carried the day - they held the Bucks top-rated offense to just 95 points on 39% shooting. Kevin Durant in particular looked different, he wasn’t looking for his shots much (sometimes to a fault), but played a great all-around floor game on his way to a Draymond Green-esque stat line of 11 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
Our bench was good too: Andre Iguodala logged 28 big minutes and ended up with 15 points, seven rebounds, and two assists; Jonas Jerebko piched in with 15 and 7 in 25 minutes (and took at least two significant blocking calls on defense to save a basket); and both Kevon Looney (8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists), and Alfonzo McKinnie (9 points and three rebounds in 17 minutes) were solid.
FINAL: Warriors 105, Bucks 95 pic.twitter.com/HDfim4s9D7— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) December 8, 2018
Warriors offense starting to find it’s stride - just in time to reincorporate some new elements
There’s a sort of natural dynamic to the various iterations of this Warriors team. Akin to the team’s “Strength in Numbers” slogan, the depth and flexibility of this team provides a resilience that we don’t talk about nearly enough. Currently, the team is adjusting to having Steph Curry back, preparing to add Draymond Green, and then looking ahead to a major change when we bring Demarcus Cousins off the bench in the next month or so.
Sometimes, there is a (possibly valid) criticism about Kerr’s offense being too complex. After all, just telling Curry and Durant to play a two man pick-and-roll game is bound to get you buckets at a respectable rate. Right out of the gate, the Warriors showed how an aggressive attack from this duo can work well without requiring a bunch of passes or off-ball movement:
Just your classic Steph Curry sets the ball screen for Kevin Durant and pops to the 3-point line. Fun stuff pic.twitter.com/uA7kNHqWL4— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 8, 2018
Overall, the Warriors looked like the better team early, though the Bucks missed a bunch of shots, it’s hard to not give credit to the Warriors defense.
Steaming start for the Warriors in Milwaukee. Two Curry 3s, an Iguodala dunk, good defensive energy/focus, up 12-4.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 8, 2018
By the end of the first, it was a solid, if not totally comfortable lead for Golden State. A lead they held throughout most of the game. Notably, Durant’s defense on Giannis was effective early - though the Milwaukee star did end up doing some damage later in the game. You could tell that the Warriors, and Durant in particular, were taking this matchup seriously.
The lead could have been larger, given the poor shooting from Milwaukee, but some bad turnovers by the Dubs and a potent Bucks offense kept this game close.
Shaun-o-matic ✌ Bucks miss at the buzzer. It was Sdot, Zo, KD, Jonas and JB finishing out Q1:— LetsGoWarriors (@LetsGoWarriors) December 8, 2018
END OF Q1
Looney 6 pts
Steph 6 pts, 2 ast
KD 2-3-3 but also 3 tov
Klay 4 pts, 2 reb
Andre 4 reb
Bledsoe 6 pts
Giannis only 2 pts, 2 tov#LetsGoWarriorsLive
Golden State takes a double-digit lead and Budenholzer calls time. Warriors 5/9 from deep, Bucks just 1/14 (!)— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) December 8, 2018
Even though the Warriors held a lead for almost the entire game, this wasn’t a blowout due to a combination of Warriors blunders, and a Bucks team that is legitimately good. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but turnovers were a concern coming in, and the Warriors showed (as they often do) that those concerns are merited, and the Warriors are going to be just fine anyways.
Warriors up 6 on the Bucks at halftime, despite...— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 8, 2018
-13 turnovers, most of them terrible/preventible
-KD's worst half in a long time: Zero made shots, 5 of those turnovers
Defense was good. Iguodala was great (10 pts/two 3s). They made nine 3s.
Tip your caps to the boys in Milwaukee, they played a tough game. Giannis is an almost Shaq-like presence in the paint and the Bucks have designed an offense to take advantage of that.
In their post-game interviews, both Kerr and Curry pointed to the fact that the team wanted to redeem themselves after getting “embarrassed” in Oracle (Kerr’s words, not mine). It worked. The Bucks scored their lowest point total of the season, shooting the worst percentage from both FG% and from behind the arc; and consequently also had their lowest assist total of the season.
The Warriors really took it to them, and only ended up with a ten-point margin of error. This is the last time these two teams face each other in the regular season, but unless something crazy happens, the Bucks are going to poised to come out of the East sooner rather than later.
Now, let’s party, and bring the team back home - where we expect to welcome Draymond Green back to the court on Monday.