Scoring 86 points in a half? The most points the Warriors surrendered in a half in 30 years? Meh!
Outshooting the Warriors from deep and making 21 3’s? Whatever.
As noteworthy and jaw-dropping as those numbers are, it still doesn’t negate the fact that they happened in game 82 of 82 when the Warriors are prepping for their toughest title run to date, as they look to be the first team since the 2000-2002 Lakers to thee-peat.
The Grizzlies? Well, they are a lock for a 12th place finish in the West, and the only ounce of meaning for them is closing the season on a winning note. Here are a couple of observations from last nights’ 132-117 defeat in Memphis.
If it was up to Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr, he would have rested all of the starters for the season’s last two games. It would have been prudent since they clinched homecourt in the West. There was no logical reason for the starters to play at all. When Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle the night before, the argument for starters to rest was magnified.
However, Kerr played Curry (and Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins) versus the Pelicans and played Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson against Memphis last night for a good reason. Had Kerr rested the core, it would have resulted in a penalty. A penalty that ironically started a couple of seasons ago when the Warriors rested the starting lineup against the San Antonio Spurs late in that season.
Kerr elected to play Durant and Thompson for only 18 and 16 minutes respectively. Just enough to get some reps. Durant scored an efficient 21 points on 7 of 21 shooting, while Thompson pored in 19 points on 8 of 12 from the field, including 3 of 5 from deep. Just enough to break a sweat. Just enough to not sweat a fine.
The Warriors will open their title defense in a first round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers-a matchup that the team secretly wanted for geographical reasons. However, that’ll be about the only thing easy about this series.
“It’s a good matchup for us geographically, but it’s a hell of an opponent,” shares Kerr. He continued, “What we saw the other day was not the fully healthy Clippers. I believe they are the highest scoring bench in the league.”
Kerr is right. The Clippers lead the league in bench points per game at 53 per. In addition to their bench scoring, the Clippers score 19 percent of their points from the free throw line. The Warriors can get a bit reckless with the fouls, so they will have to play disciplined defense throughout this series for this specific reason.
The Warriors will take the day off before reconvening on Friday to breakdown film and review the scouting report on the Clips. Game one is Saturday at 8 pm on ABC.