Tuesday night’s 114-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets was weird. The Golden State Warriors were all over the map, for better and for worse. Some players had hot games, some had cold games, and some had weird games.
And unfortunately, Jordan Bell was injured, though it looks like he’ll be just fine.
Despite the win, it’s a game that the team, and fans, would likely prefer to forget. Just acknowledge win number 50, move along, and forget it ever happened.
But I can’t let that happen! There were interesting things across the board for the Warriors, so here’s what I took away from the game.
Zaza’s role is all but gone
After the All-Star break, coach Steve Kerr made a surprising move to try and jump start a middling team. He removed Zaza Pachulia from the starting lineup, and replaced him with JaVale McGee.
So far, so good. Golden State has won six straight out of the break, with McGee starting every game.
Still, Pachulia has had a role in that success. Until last night.
Even with David West out with injury, Pachulia didn’t see the floor. McGee started, and played very well, and Bell was the first big off the bench. Kevon Looney saw serious playing time for the first time in a while, and looked strong while recording 15 minutes.
Some of this is due to matchups, and Kerr being Kerr. The Nets two traditional centers - Timofey Mozgov and Jahlil Okafor - also didn’t play, which is par for the course for them. Instead, Brooklyn relied on a smaller, younger, more athletic frontcourt, which was bound to give Pachulia fits. And Kerr surely wanted to find minutes for Looney, who has been inactive as of late.
But still. There’s pretty clearly a change happening for Golden State. The Warriors had been beat in the pick and roll, and down the court a few too many times this year. It appears Kerr finally decided that their ceiling doesn’t include a slow, offensively-struggling center.
After the game, Stephen Curry lauded Pachulia for his professionalism, and ability to deal with the change in role.
Stephen Curry praises Zaza Pachulia’s professionalism with handling recent bench role and tonight’s DNP pic.twitter.com/LlAMaoGHMK— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 7, 2018
Pachulia admitted that it’s a struggle to have his role diminished, somewhat cryptically telling reporters that “It’s tough. It’s not easy to deal with this kind of situation. Plus, there are other things besides basketball. It’s all part of the game. Politics are part of the game. Adjustments are part of the game. Luck is part of the game. It’s all different things.”
Still, this is Steve Kerr’s team we’re talking about. Pachulia better stay ready, because he’ll undoubtedly be given a huge opportunity in a key moment somewhere down the road.
They’re as hot as they want to be
After a slow first few minutes, the Warriors reminded the league just how good they can be. They locked down the clamps defensively. They moved the ball brilliantly, quickly, and poetically.
They rattled off a 25-0 run like it was absolutely nothing. It looked like a college team scrimmaging against a JV high school team, and deciding it was time to teach the youngsters a lesson. It honestly didn’t look fair.
Where’s the NBA mercy clock?!
It was a joy to watch.
Human Torch mode: Activated pic.twitter.com/PraulFU0MG— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 7, 2018
And then, as quickly as it came, it went. The Dubs had perhaps their worst quarter of the season in the second, getting outscored 34-13. The blowout they had just minutes prior was suddenly a deficit.
If that’s not a microcosm of the season, I don’t know what is.
This team is historically great when they decide to be. But for one reason or another - boredom, fatigue, etc. - they haven’t always decided to be.
It’s perfect when it works. Hopefully they make sure it works when the competition is stronger.
Andre Iguodala had a pretty slow start to the season, and his poor shooting only exacerbated the issues he was experiencing.
If the Warriors want to cut through the Western Conference like butter, as they did last spring, they need Iguodala to be the two-way monster he’s been in years past, playing lock-down defense while leading the offense on the break.
That player appears to be back. Over the last few games, Iguodala has looked like his old self, swarming opposing players, and looking like an athletic freak.
He looks energetic and athletic, which is a change from earlier in the year. And last night it culminated in a beautifully Iguodalian stat line: 6 points on 4 shots, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and a +12 in 26 minutes.
This is the Iguodala who is a difference maker in the playoffs.
Who was the Warrior Wonder for the win against the Nets?
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