Maybe it’s because I love watching Kevin Durant, maybe it’s because I’m a poor excuse for a blog boy, but I actually watched this whole game.
Even after Durant was ludicrously ejected at the end of the first half, I stayed in my seat and watched as the Warriors young guns battled manfully against the odds.
I feel this makes me uniquely qualified to write some words about it.
I don't think Kevin Durant understands the amount of creativity it would take to blog about basketball without watching the games. That's way more impressive imo.— Contrarian Necessitarian (@basquiatball) March 28, 2018
The All-Stars looked lively
The game started off as a really intriguing battle between some crazy long-armed dudes. Yes, Kevin Durant was back to battle Giannis Antetokuompo.
Throughout the first quarter, they went back and forth. Crucially we saw some glimpses of how the Warriors need to play these next few weeks without Steph Curry.
Durant was operating smoothly within the system, hitting open guys for shots when double teamed, and in return getting some nice looks off movement as well as utilizing his unparalleled scoring skills. By the end of the first half, he’d accumulated six assists to go along with his ten points.
Of course, all that was spoiled by the ejection right before halftime. Durant looked like he got fouled on a couple of trips to the hoop and said something that the referee took exception to, and that was that.
No warning, just tossed straight out of the game. I can only deduce that Tre Maddox is a superfan of PER, TS%, EFG% and every other advanced stat out there.
Even noted referee defender Tim Kawakami thought it looked bad.
I rarely criticize the officials, but that was a brutal non-call on Durant's drive. It happens. I think Durant was still steaming over a similar non-call in the first quarter.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) March 30, 2018
It was though his fifth ejection this season, after two for the whole of his career previously. Apparently this is the highest single season total since Rasheed Wallace!
I mean how has mild-mannered Kevin Durant ended up channeling the spirit of a man who once got ejected for yelling his legendary catchphrase ‘Ball Don’t Lie!’
Speaking of fiery legends who have represented Michigan teams, our other returning All-Star, Draymond Green, looked re-energized after a little break due to an impressive range of maladies. Seriously, he’s been filling up that injury list like he fills up a stat sheet.
Last night, though, Green was back. He was active defensively, disrupting passing lanes and bodying up an array of insanely lengthy Bucks players. He also brought some offensive punch, spraying the ball around for assists, and scoring a few buckets himself. Overall, he finished with 11 points, six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block.
Draymond steal and dish...Livingston slam! #DubNation pic.twitter.com/dB5ciBpxsM— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2018
Patrick McCaw dropped the no-look dime to Draymond Green in tonight's #AssistOfTheNight! #DubNation pic.twitter.com/P50Qu2i8Yq— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2018
Ultimately though there was a limit to what could be done in the face of this once Durant was tossed. Once Giannis gets a decent coach, there’s going to be trouble.
Giannis Antetokounmpo fueled the @Bucks win in Oakland with 32 PTS and 5 AST! #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/aLBDo90ACz— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2018
The inexperience of youth is sometimes an advantage
After the Durant ejection the game was lost. The Bucks saw blood in the water and quickly turned the screws. It looked like it was heading for a blowout.
But here’s the thing about the inexperience of youth. Sometimes you just don’t know when you’re beaten. And so it was left down to the young guys to try to make something of this game in the second half.
We’ll have more to say about Quinn Cook a bit later, but Patrick McCaw and Kevon Looney showed up in the third quarter, bringing the Warriors back with a nice little run. Looney continued his fine recent play with eight points including flashing his jumper, four rebounds, three blocks, and a steal and an assist.
We all know about Looney’s recent play, but it was heartening to see McCaw leading the charge. He finished with 12 points, three assists, and a steal in what hopefully be a confidence boosting game heading into the playoffs.
JaVale McGee settling the center spot
One rotation battle that seems to be settled is the starting center spot. Of course the bulk of the playoff minutes in the middle will go to some combination of Green, David West (who got into a bit of a rhythm in the second quarter and finished with eight points), and Looney, who now appears indispensable.
But sorry, Zaza Pachulia fans, JaVale McGee is grabbing starting that role like a mis-thrown alley-oop.
A house divided on the Warriors' starting center spot pic.twitter.com/JsNtLemgFr— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 30, 2018
Last night, he finished with 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting (or dunking really) and two blocks, including sending Giannis packing.
Not many people can block Giannis at the rim. JaVale McGee can and did pic.twitter.com/Xsd5UpLK3d— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 30, 2018
JaVale McGee up high and down hard!#DubNation pic.twitter.com/X2wf3OtCRf— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2018
NOPE— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 30, 2018
YUP @JaValeMcGee doin' work! @NBCSAuthentic! pic.twitter.com/I7B1sW8SO6
Turnovers remain the biggest concern
This may have been the Warriors third loss in a row, and seventh of the last ten, but now we’re locked into the second seed these games are fairly meaningless. It’s all about getting guys healthy and in rhythm.
But one concerning takeaway from this game was the sheer number of turnovers. The Warriors actually had the lead late in the second quarter, and were looking pretty decent. But they finished the half down 11 off a 9-0 Bucks run fueled by several of the team’s ugly 15 first half turnovers. It was in the midst of that, when Durant got tossed.
Some of that you can put down to guys being out of rhythm, some of it down to Milwaukee’s ridiculous length, but there was some really sloppy stuff there. This remains the biggest non-injury related worry as we limp into the playoffs. They’ve spent most of the season not really trying and those bad habits are hard to get rid of this time of year.
Against good teams there’s just no way to win if we’re just passing the ball straight to them. It’s a particular concern against lengthy teams. That’s why the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost last night and could very well end up our side of the bracket, are such a dangerous matchup for this team.
It may well get cleared up over the next few games as guys come back and pick up their rhythm. But there’s not a lot of time until the playoffs.
The basketball gods remain thirsty
Today we had several injury scares. Whilst the quick thinking of the referees meant Durant’s night was shortened and therefore his injury risk reduced, Andre Iguodala went out and did not return (and is likely to miss the Kings game), and Young came up hobbling at one point.
Apparently this curse is not limited only to the Warriors, as Giannis seemed to pick something up midway through the third. Didn’t stop him torching us, but come on basketball gods, have some mercy. I mean we already sacrificed a GOAT, what more can we do?
Who was the Warrior Wonder in last night’s loss to Milwaukee?
This poll is closed
True Shooting Percentage
Other (answer in the comments please)