Well, that was closer than it needed to be.
The Golden State Warriors survived a 30-point fourth quarter that featured a late 14-2 run to hold off a young and pesky Cleveland Cavaliers team 120-114. Stephen Curry led all scorers with 40 points on the night. Draymond Green scored a season high of 20 to push the Dubs closer to clinching the number one seed in the West. Here are a few takeaways from tonight’s game.
While the Cavs won the battle in steals and points off of turnovers tonight, the Warriors outblocked Cleveland eight to one. Throughout the first half tonight, the Dubs had active hands and were engaged defensively, and the blocks were a huge part of that. At 6.4 per game, the Warriors lead the league in blocked shots, and it shouldn’t be surprising that they racked up eight tonight. When engaged and locked in defensively, the Warriors are good at getting stops this way.
What’s surprising about the Warriors and the blocks is the assumption that there’s not a lot of trust that the bigs will be in the vicinity to support those on the perimeter. NBC Sports-Bay Area analyst Jim Barnett alluded to such in the telecast. He said in so many words that those guarding the perimeter should trust the bigs to be there a little more than they are. Barnett says that doing so will cut a lot of senseless reach-in fouls. Tonight, the Warriors had 21 fouls and gave up 23 trips to the line to the Cavs.
Bench Issues Abound
The biggest reason the Cavs were able to surge in the second half and cut the Warriors’ lead to three in the fourth was the fact that the bench outscored the Warriors’ second unit 41-28. The Warriors’ bench woes are nothing new and have been a problem throughout the season. Quinn Cook had half of the bench points, while Jonas Jerebko chipped in for six and Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney combined for the final eight. Granted, Andre Iguodala didn’t play but despite his absence, the bench plus Klay Thompson should have been more than enough to sustain the lead.
The Bounce Back
After shooting a horrid 3 of 14 from the field against the Lakers last night, Stephen Curry exploded offensively with 40 points on 12 of 21 shooting, including 9 of 12 from deep. I don't know what it is about Curry and the Lakers at Staples but he struggles against them in that building.
Steph Curry's last four games vs the Lakers at Staples Center:— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) April 5, 2019
-Nov. 4, 2016 = 13 points, 0-for-10 from deep
-Nov. 25, 2016 = 24 points, 4-for-10 from deep
-Nov. 29, 2017 = 28 points, 3-for-9 from deep
-Jan. 21, 2019 = 11 points, 2-for-10 from deep
Yet, after his duds against the Lakers on the road, Curry tends to bounce back. The following game after snapping his consecutive games with made threes, Curry torched the Pelicans the following game for a then-record of 13 threes made. Tonight? Curry scored 18 of his 40 in the first quarter after scoring only seven last night in Los Angeles. Given the type of shooter that Curry is, him not having a long memory has to be an underrated aspect of his game.
This is why he said to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke that the reason he could rebound so well after having a 1 for 9 night from three is not to make the simple complicated.
“It’s basketball.” Curry told Burke, “You never get too high or too low”
Dray Day (And the Warriors are Celebrating)
Earlier in the season, Draymond Green vowed that opponents will be in trouble once his shots start falling. Against the Cavs, Green scored a season high of 20 points including 3 of 7 from deep. Other than his hilariously unorthodox shooting posture and form, a big reason for Green’s struggles was his overall health. He says that his shot is in a better place right now because he’s fairly healthy.
Draymond Green’s jumper is in a much better place in April than it was in December: “Early in the season, I just didn’t feel good. My body was...rough. It was hurting, from the toe to the knee.” pic.twitter.com/KXRu1MnrhX— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 6, 2019
If this trend continues, it gives the Warriors another solid scoring option going in to the playoffs. Usually, Green’s scoring is a luxury because he’s always either defending and rebounding or playmaking. Opposing defenses will try and make Green’s scoring more of a necessity than a luxury. Now the onus is on Green to continue to make them pay.
The Warriors will host the Clippers Sunday night in the last regular season game at Oracle. With a win, they will clinch the conference’s number one seed.