Despite the Dubs storming back to erase a 24-point deficit and playing lockdown defense in the final sequence of the game, they deserved every bit of that loss. As great as the comeback was, it was for naught because the Warriors didn’t lose the game in that 0.8 second window. They lost it in the first 15 minutes.
Sloppy First Half
From the opening tip, the Warriors didn't bring the right energy into American Airlines Arena. Marred by senseless fouls in the game’s opening minutes, the Warriors granted the Heat trips to the stripe for the majority of the quarter. Green’s early foul trouble, consequently altered the rotations.
Not to mention missed shots, constant grumbling, non existent transition defense. It’s a wonder that Golden State was only down by 10 at the end of the quarter.
Goran Dragic powered the Heat in the second quarter with 25 points off the bench, scoring five more points than Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry combined with less shots. Granted, Curry and Durant missed plenty of shots that they usually make. However, it doesn’t excuse the undisciplined defense. Dragic aggressively initiated contact and took advantage of the Warriors porous defense and as a result, the heat enjoyed a 24 point lead at the half.
A solid and purposeful second half where the Warriors held the Heat to 39 percent shooting, and waking up offensively was not enough to make up for the undisciplined apathy of the first half.
Should Cousins have played?
The Warriors ruled DeMarcus Cousins out of the line up for “load management”. Against the Hornets, Cousins played thirty minutes and the Warriors didn’t want to play him in a back to back situation yet. However, you have to wonder if the Warriors were better off playing Cousins last night and letting him rest tonight against the Magic. Why? Because Miami out rebounded and outscored Golden State in the paint. Cousins would have given the Warriors a extra playmaker out there especially when Green battled foul trouble all game before fouling out in the fourth. Besides, it wasn’t like Looney’s performance was remarkable. In 13 minutes of action, Looney didn’t score. He didn’t attempt to score and only snagged six rebounds and dished two assists. Not to mention three fouls of his own. Again, I understand the need to rest Cousins. The Warriors aren’t confident in letting him play in back to backs. However, playing Looney last night proved to be more of a liability than a recovering Cousins.
Granted, I’m pretty sure that Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t force Kevon Looney being a non-factor last night. But in hindsight, I couldn't help but wonder if the Warriors would have been better off starting Jordan Bell either at the four and moving Draymond Green at the five or starting Bell at the five. No Cousins against an athletic front court plus Green’s foul trouble proved that this was the kind of game for Bell. Against the Heat, Bell scored 10 points and recorded six rebounds, a block and a steal in his 19 minutes. Plus, one of Bell’s rebounds was pivotal. Kelly Olynyk missed a three and Bell snagged the board from two Heat players. He raced down the court, drew contact and knocked down both of his free throws to give the Warriors a four point lead.
Had Bell played some of Looney’s minutes or even started, he would have been more productive due to the matchup. Regardless of his penchant for being block happy at times, Bell still has the athleticism for certain matchups.
Rough Night For Bench
The Heat’s reserves throughly outplayed the Warriors’ in every statistical category except assists and turnovers. Porous defense lead to Dragic, et al feasting. The Heat scored 62 bench points and shot 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from three while holding a Warriors’ bench that struggles to score consistently to 47 percent from the field and 40 from three.