For a second it looked as if the Warriors — who at one point had been down by twenty-four points — would be stoking the flames of hatred that engulf those who’ve been clamoring about how they ruin the league.
Storming back from a 15-point first-half deficit, Golden State looked prime to rip the hearts out of Heat fans once again — a sequel to the comeback win they had over Miami just several weeks ago.
But with a four-point lead and only 14 seconds left in the game, Dwayne Wade rewrote the ending and added another chapter to his farewell season tour, knocking down back-to-back three-pointers in the clutch to put the Heat on top 126-125.
Give it up to Wade, a career 29% shooter from deep, who canned five three-pointers in total to help his team pull out the win.
But as random as that was, it was hardly the weirdest anomaly of the night. Perhaps one of the strangest parts was how Miami — who had run out of timeouts — basically got one for free after Kevin Durant was intentionally fouled with thirteen seconds left on the clock.
Instead of marching to the foul line, the entire Heat squad went to their bench where it looked like Eric Spoelstra was able to draw up a play, leaving Durant waiting to take his free throws.
For all intents and purposes, that should have been a delay of game and the Warriors should have received a technical free throw for it due to the Heat already committing a delay-of-game penalty earlier in the game. But the officials missed it, and the Warriors lost a chance for the potential point to instead put the game into overtime.
Whistles Flying Fast and Loose
The referees certainly were a large factor all game long with fifty-two foul calls in total. However neither team benefitted from the alarming rate of calls considering the almost equal number of free throw attempts on both sides. Instead, most of the damage showed up in the flow of the game and the inconsistency of calls was the foundation of a lot of frustration.
Draymond Green for one, couldn’t seem to figure out what the refs were looking for, as he was consumed in foul trouble for much of the game — eventually fouling out midway through the fourth quarter on what looked like nothing more than establishing a routine post defense position.
But the shaky officiating aside, no one was more culpable for the large first-half deficit than the Warriors themselves.
Wasn’t the Cali Drought Over?
Anyone not named Klay Thompson couldn’t buy a bucket from downtown as the Warriors went a ghastly 5-of-21 in the first half. This combined with the Heat shooting an unreal 9-of-18 from deep and 63% overall dug the Warriors into an early hole that took almost all of the second half to dig themselves out of.
It’s amazing that the Warriors managed to end the game shooting 44% from beyond the arc considering how badly they struggled to start the game. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Thompson also all made a 4-point play in the second half to boot.
But they’re known as the best shooting team in the league and so the more concerning part right now is over the team’s returning penchant for slow starts. Everyone knows they have the talent to simply turn it on and steal games. However in this season’s tightening playoff race, these games against much less talented teams are ones they definitely shouldn’t be giving up.
Star of the Stars
Despite Durant delivering some of the sharpest daggers in the fourth quarter, it was Thompson’s steady hand on offense that helped keep the game from getting completely out of control all throughout the game.
His seven three-pointers were timely and momentum building, and he ended the game with a game-high 36 points.
KLAY GIVES THE DUBS THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/5Ni7Y5uiqG— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 28, 2019
Defensively he was tasked with trying to lock down Dion Waiters and he did a considerable job helping to hold the Heat guard to 1-of-6 shooting and collecting three steals.
Assistance Off the Bench
With Steve Kerr deciding to rest DeMarcus Cousins for the game along with Green and Kevon Looney picking up more fouls than minutes, Jordan Bell found his way onto the court for some substantial playing time.
He had one of his most impressive games this season, showcasing some of that infectious energy that vaulted him towards the top of the rotation last season.
To cap it off, Bell also hit the pair of clutch free throws that appeared to essentially seal the game as those points put the Warriors up by four in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
But of course...Dwayne Wade.
The Warriors head over to Orlando to complete their back-to-back Florida trip tomorrow.