Late yesterday afternoon, the Golden State Warriors quietly moved newcomers Willie Cauley-Stein and Alec Burks into “probable” status for today’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Golden State, who will not play with their “full” roster until at least next year (when Klay Thompson returns from knee surgery) are more than happy to welcome Cauley-Stein and Burks back into the lineup, though how much either will play in their first game back is anyone’s guess — though the number is probably a small one.
Regardless, with Kevon Looney (hip), and Jacob Evans (adductor strain) out for the game, Golden State will take any help they can get against a surprisingly potent Phoenix Suns team.
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs.Phoenix Suns
WHEN: Wednesday, October 30, 2019; 7:30pm
WHERE: Chase Center — San Francisco, CA
Blog Buddy: Bright Side of the Sun
Checking in on the Warriors
Like much of Northern California, I’ve been offline and avoiding smoke for the past handful of days. I haven’t had internet, so I have missed the last two Warriors’ games. After a painfully bad opening two games, the Warriors finally got a win against the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was Draymond Green’s first triple double of the year (16 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists), which may be related. After the game, Green spoke at length about tone setting and being aggressive. They’ll need it.
Starting off with a depleted roster, and then stacked with additional injuries, Golden State has fed into everyone’s worst fears as they opened the season flat. Already woefully thin at the wings, the Warriors lost most of their bigs to injuries and have struggled to free up Stephen Curry from the added scrutiny that comes with being a featured player on a team without depth.
But coach Steve Kerr is not going to succumb to the base instincts of Twitter. As transcribed by the Mercury News, though he calls the offense disjointed he’s sticking with the motion-based offense.
“I don’t know that it’s that simple,” Kerr said Monday as the Warriors got set to play the New Orleans Pelicans. “We can turn him into James Harden and give him the ball on every play, but that’s really hard to do. You have to build a team for that.”
“That kind of basketball wears you out, too. Especially for a guy who’s 180 pounds like Steph is,” Kerr said. “I don’t think it makes a ton of sense from Steph’s standpoint.”
There are signs that Kerr was right. Though Curry led the team with 26 points against the Pelicans, it was a well-rounded night, with eight players scoring eight or more points.
Damion Lee, a player so marginal that he is on a two-way contract that allows him to float between the D league and the NBA, poured in what was probably the best night of his professional career, with 23 points and 11 rebounds over the course of 23 minutes. And speaking of high impact/low minute players, our Warrior Wonder Omari Spellman was a revelation. As with any non-elite team, the Warriors are now definitely open to a moral victory or two.
In 17 minutes, Spellman grabbed a whopping eight rebounds, while putting in eight points as well. He rounded out the box score with an assist and a blocked shot.
But it was his tone, more than anything. He was energetic and athletic. He went after every rebound, every lose ball, every pass that could be deflected, and every shot that could be blocked.
Now we are potentially adding Willie Cauley-Stein, the athletic big man roll threat that has been painfully absent in the first few games. It’s not much, as Cauley-Stein probably isn’t making the All Star team this year, but he is going to slot right into the roster at a position of need. Same goes for wingman Alex Burkes, who won’t be expected to beat the world or anything, but should slot in immediately and help.
Checking in on the Suns
The Phoenix Suns have been one of the more shocking stories to come out of the first week of the NBA. A perennially bad team, they may (and this is an extra emphasis on “may”) finally be turning it around.
Led by Devin Booker, and... Kelly Oubre (?) the Suns sit pretty at 2-2, including a powerhouse performance against the recently mighty Los Angeles Clippers. They will be playing without Deandre Ayton (serving a 25-game suspension for banned substances), but have ample girth down low, with Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes available.
Vegas has Golden State listed as a six point favorite, and I see no reason to doubt their collective wisdom. Dubs get win number two, 122 - 118.