What if I told you that the Golden State Warriors were opening the last back-to-back of the season with first place already in tow, and at first, resting two-fifths of their all star core. Then, Stephen Curry joined Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the locker room. And somehow, the bench(along with Cousins and Green) carried their fair share of the load, and still ended up with their 57th win of the season.
DeMarcus Cousins led the way with 21 points while Damion Lee and Quinn Cook chipped in with 20 and 19 points respectively. Here are three observations from tonight’s game.
Curry leaves game
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Stephen Curry slipped on the floor of the Smoothie King Arena, took a moment of self inventory, and drained a jumper before deciding that he couldn’t continue. Curry’s official diagnosis was a mild right foot sprain, and didn't return to the game.
Honestly, it didn’t make sense for Curry to play in the first place. It wasn’t like this was a must win for seeding. Since beating the Nuggets and the Clippers, the Warriors’ secured the best record in the West. It didn’t even mean anything to Pelicans, they have been eliminated from the playoff picture for a few months now. Risking any of the core for this wasn’t a good look and it was also mindless. Luckily, the initial prognosis is that Curry will be fine before the weekend.
Steph Curry update via Steve Kerr: “We think he’ll be fine.” Icing sprained ankle now. Unlikely to play tomorrow. Confident he’ll be available for Game 1 this weekend.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 10, 2019
Here’s the play in question:
Here’s a look at the Curry right ankle twist. Same arena as it happened last season. He tried to play through it briefly, then asked out, went straight to locker room. Still there. pic.twitter.com/UXXjQ3BnhD— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 10, 2019
Luckily for the Warriors, Curry was able to run to the locker room instead of limp to it. Against the Grizzlies, expect Curry and all of the other starters to rest. It makes no sense to jeopardize your guys before the playoffs arrive in a matter of days. It changes nothing for playoff seeding and positioning .
The Bench Drops 60
Granted, the circumstances were what they were: all of the all star lineup was out, the Pelicans themselves were without Anthony Davis , but it still doesn’t change the fact that the Warriors bench, who’s been maligned for most of the year, exploded for 60. Leading the charge off the bench was Damion Lee with a career high of 20 points. Followed by Quinn Cook’s 19, the rest of the role player scored in double figures. Rookie Jacob Evans scored 11 in his first start, while Alfonzo McKinnie chipped in with 10. These two games are critical for the second unit. In the playoff’s , a team’s rotation shortens. So tonight’s game plus Memphis will determine who will the Warriors will roll with for the postseason.
There was no way that DeMarcus Cousins was going to sit this one out. The last time he was in New Orleans, he was a member of the Pelicans and it was where he ruptured his Achilles. Ever so determined to put on a show, Cousins, at times forced the issues instead of letting the game come to him. Early in the first quarter, Cousins was missing close shots in the paint, and jumpers until he found a rhythm as the game progressed. Eventually he finished with 21 on 7 of 18 from the field. Capitalizing on the Pelicans fouls, Cousins was able make the most out of his trips to the line, finishing at 60 percent for the night Given that tomorrow’s game in Memphis is the last of the regular season and Cousins hasn’t played a back to back all year. It will be senseless to start now.