Just a few days ago, it seemed like the mood was that the sky was falling, and that the Warriors couldn’t find a rhythm.
Since then, they went on the road against two teams considered to be some of the hardest competition on the West. They won both games.
Without Kevin Durant.
Suddenly the dominant Warriors are back in the driver’s seat.
Golden State looked like champions from the get-go. Before you had time to grab a game-time beer, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins had all knocked down three-pointers.
Just like that, the Dubs led 15-5. Then 26-12. Then 32-18. They put up 40 first-quarter points against an elite Thunder defense, en route to a 15-point lead.
That's now a +47 for the Warriors in their last four first quarters. Had been terrible in the first quarter the 10 games prior.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 17, 2019
The usual suspects were there on offense. Steph Curry was energetic and aggressive, and finished with 33 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Klay Thompson splashed in 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. DeMarcus Cousins had another strong game, with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Draymond Green went 3-of-4 from deep, while collecting 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
But it was the defense that made a difference. The clamps came out.
It started with Klay Thompson, who absolutely took it to Russell Westbrook. Thompson bodied up Russ inside, forced him into contested, off-balance shots, and dared him to take the type of jumpers that Westbrook struggles to make.
Westbrook’s final line? 7 points on 2-of-16 shooting.
Take a look at his shot chart (though it’s worth noting that he made his next and final shot after this was posted):
Russell Westbrook's shot chart tonight. Not only is he way off on Js, he's not even trying to finish at the rim, even when the Warriors don't have bigs in position. ONE attempt at the rim, and that was a layup set up by someone else. pic.twitter.com/1SgBKF0MxK— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) March 17, 2019
If Thompson was the defensive Batman, then Andre Iguodala - getting a start due to Durant’s injury - was the defensive Robin. Tasked with slowing MVP candidate Paul George, Iguodala did just that. George finished with 29 points, but he needed 25 shots to get there, and rarely looked comfortable.
It was a star performance on both ends of the court, despite being on the road, despite playing a tough team, despite lacking one of the three greatest players in the world.
And all seems well.