“We’ve lost a couple games the last week in the final seconds, so I felt like we needed this win,” coach Steve Kerr said to assembled reporters after last night’s tight win over the surprisingly dangerous Sacramento Kings.
Our big three scorers all played heavy minutes - nearly 40 minutes for Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry. Curry, in particular was most noticeably taken out of his new rotation. A week or two ago, Kerr made a big change in Curry’s rotation - putting him (rather than Thompson and/or Durant) at the helm of our so-called second unit. Results have been...mixed. Last night however, Curry played the entire fourth quarter and ended up with 42 points - 20 in that 4th quarter alone - and more importantly: the win.
Borderline playoff rotation/minutes. Yeesh pic.twitter.com/NjHbpZDv68— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) January 6, 2019
“We got tomorrow off, so you ride Steph. But it’s not something I want to do every night, that’s for sure.”
-Kerr’s postgame comments
Just before the game against the Kings, Kerr was prodded about the Warriors’ general malaise. They have seemed to lack that dominant punch that has instilled fear into the league and spawned countless imitators. The stats back that up. At just +4.2, the Warriors’ point differential is just seventh in the league. This “net rating” is supposedly one of the best corollaries for winning - it’s not an exact science, but generally the best teams have the best point differential. And that just hasn’t been there this year.
“There’s no question that the league is dramatically different now compared to 2015,” the coach said, as transcribed by ESPN:
“You don’t think these other teams have been planning for us for the last three years?” Kerr said. “And you don’t think we get everybody’s best shot night after night? So this is difficult and we’re feeling that. The only way for us to get through all that is through our own work and execution and chemistry and just the ability to fight through everything and build some momentum, and that’s the goal.”
And the Warriors are different, too. Playing for a threepeat, their fifth consecutive Finals appearance, and adjusting to constant injuries - all while waiting for our biggest free agent acquisition since Kevin Durant to be available. Threepeats are hard. Here’s the complete list out of the entire history of the league - from 1946 through today- of teams that have managed to pull this feat off:
When it matters, Curry won’t be on the bench
Kerr is tinkering with stuff right now. This recent rotation change for Curry may not last much longer, but it’s been an eye-opening exercise for fans. Sure, you can do whatever you want to this roster, and they’ll still out-talent their way to victory more often than not. But for any sort of high-stakes win, Kerr isn’t going to mess around.
The “Strength in Numbers” slogan has evolved a bit. We are talking less about the strength at the bottom of the rotation and more about the strength at the top. Fans see it. Kerr knows it. And you can hopefully find some small comfort in weathering those hard-to-watch January losses knowing that Kerr’s just messing around right now.
When it matters the most, it’ll be our main guys in there.
The Curry/Durant stagger breakdown from last night:— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) January 6, 2019
-SC + KD together 29:20 ... +18
-KD only 9:31 .... -6
-Curry only 9:09 ... -8
(Probably off by a few seconds here or there. Non-easy tabulations.)
Obviously, Kerr played Curry the entire 4th, which boosted the combo numbers.