Aside from the chronic talent deficit, the ruthlessness of the San Antonio machine was brutal. Wave and wave of robotic, clinical, even traumatising execution surged over an inferior franchise.
The Warriors lay broken, washed up, and discarded on the shore like the proverbial shipwreck they were.
Then from out of the wreckage crawled a monstrous, multi-headed hydra. Cut one head off and there was another right there. No-one could withstand the ferocious splashing of the beast, and all trembled before it.
That’s the long way round of saying I will never take a victory over the Spurs for granted.
The brains of the beast
It’s fitting that the Warriors extinguished the Spurs last night through defense, ball movement, and Strength in Numbers. This game marked Steve Kerr’s 250th regular season victory, the fastest coach in all four major sports to have reached the mark.
Tonight’s win marked Steve Kerr’s 250th regular season victory as a head coach. Kerr needed the fewest games coached (302) to reach this milestone, passing Phil Jackson – 346. pic.twitter.com/VtslsdyvtC— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 11, 2018
Of course, typically modest as he is, he credited the players he inherited. But others did not achieve the levels of success he did in his first couple of seasons with pretty much the same roster, and despite the fatigue of all these deep playoff runs, this group are still currently sitting with the top record in the league.
So many other ‘superteams’ fall apart due to chemistry issues and ego clashes. Kerr has seen dynasties in Chicago and San Antonio close up and knows what it takes to elevate talent in way that is inclusive and sustainable.
Part of that is his ability to keep things light with his humour.
Steve Kerr reached 250 wins tonight, but he says if you want to subtract Luke Walton's wins then you have to subtract his losses too pic.twitter.com/8f1798uTK8— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 11, 2018
But for real, here’s two of the Warriors most important on-court leaders on what he brings.
Steph and Draymond react to Steve Kerr reaching 250 wins. pic.twitter.com/YulX6ADpFc— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 11, 2018
Quite simply, we are blessed to have a leader like Steve Kerr guiding this multi-headed, splashing monster.
On an entirely unrelated note, how refreshing was it to see a nationally televised Warriors game without a pair of complete fools jabbering inane nonsense all over the broadcast? Thank you, Hubie Brown and Mark Jones. More of that please.
Talking of splashing around, Klay Thompson has a strong claim to this game's on court Warrior Wonder. After a relatively quiet first half, the ongoing dunk contest between Thompson and Zaza Pachulia exploded with this hammer dunk.
Klay Thompson was not happy that Zaza took a 10-7 lead in the dunk tracker this season so he did THIS pic.twitter.com/g032fkH2D9— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) February 11, 2018
Thompson then proceeded to drench the Spurs going 5-6 from long range, and finishing with 25 points.
Thompson remains confident that he’ll emerge out of this dunk contest on top.
Klay Thompson on his poster dunk tonight and his most dunks bet with Zaza this season, trails him now but says he'll end up beating him by 4 or 5 pic.twitter.com/H6soXYsMZE— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 11, 2018
Meanwhile his teammates looked favourably upon his latest efforts.
Klay's dunk got mixed reactions from the squad pic.twitter.com/ESqpuBDz8c— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 11, 2018
Steph Curry was asked about Klay Thompson's dunk tonight, reminded reporters of this hammer he laid on top of KD's head a few years back https://t.co/QmRWTy55tp— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 11, 2018
The belly of the beast
Draymond Green brought his energy on both ends of the floor again, devouring opponents and spewing fire on whoever came near him.
He finished with 17 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, one block and one steal, while shooting 8-16 including this very nice dunk.
Another demonstration that while Green’s three-point shooting may be a little hit and miss this year, his finishing around the rim is up at a career high .548%.
The three-headed monster in the middle
As mentioned, the Warriors Strength in Numbers that is so much of Kerr’s modus operandi was in full effect.
Tonight we saw the return of the three-headed monster in the middle from last season.
Birthday boy Pachulia celebrated by making nearly all his layups. He ended up going 4-for-5, including this dunk that sparked Thompson’s night, for 12 points.
David West was as reliably brilliant as ever, with 13 points on 6-6 shooting, and four rebounds. I don’t know what else to say about him except please don’t retire at the end of the year.
Perhaps the surprise of the night was JaVale McGee who put in some strong minutes, particularly in the third quarter. Tonight he had seven points, three rebounds, and one monstrous rejection that resembled a tentacle swooping down from the heavens to crush it’s puny prey.
McGee’s time has been limited by matchups, but in the playoffs the Warriors could face one of the Pelicans, Clippers, or Nuggets in the first round, and potentially the Spurs or the Wolves in the second round, all of whom play some more traditional big men.
Jordan Bell had jumped over him in the rotation but with his injury, but in recent games McGee has recaptured some of his form from last year and is making any decision to buy him out to create a roster spot very difficult.
Alternatively, if they do want another splashing tentacle it may be they have to lop off Omri Casspi. After a great start to his Warriors career, his present steadfast refusal to shoot has made his offensive game stale and predictable.
Tonight, yet again, the offense created an open three for him and instead he drove into traffic and turned it over.
The pass wasn’t perfect from West, but Casspi didn’t want to catch and shoot the 3. He drove and got stripped... pic.twitter.com/r6BH58PFue— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) February 11, 2018
The Warriors already have a bevvy of non-shooting wings, and don’t need another one. To be blunt, his reluctance to shoot from long range cauterises the Warriors offense like Heracles after cutting off one of the Hydra’s heads. As the mythical hydra discovered, this sort of thing is simply not sustainable.
Omri Casspi hasnt attempted a 3 since January 6th (17 games ago)— Grant Liffmann (@GrantLiffmann) February 11, 2018
Next time he actually shoots a three, that may well be a real Warrior Wonder.
The hydra’s tentacles
On the other hand, those non-shooting veteran wings Andre Iguodala (six points, six rebounds, a joint team high +16) and Shaun Livingston (four points, three assists, two rebounds, and a block and a steal apiece) played well tonight.
They were out there with their length disrupting passing lanes, blocking shots and generally thrashing around. Much like the hydra’s tentacles really.
After the Warriors opened with their usual sloppiness and some pretty lazy second efforts, the second quarter lineup helped sharpen the defensive focus and execution. That unit has been much more effective than last year, and has allowed the Warriors to give opponents a different look to worry about.
We’ll see what the coaching staff do in the playoffs, but that unit allows them to maximise Curry and Durant’s time together. And when it’s on the defensive effort is solid, the ball moves, the cuts are sharp, and the beast can’t be stopped.
Now it’s everyone else’s time to be afraid.
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Spurs?
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