In every game preview this year I’m going to list keys to victory for the Warriors. And the next day I’ll revisit those keys to see how they did, in a segment I’m calling “Back to the future.”
Christmas was difficult for a lot of people this year, and the Golden State Warriors didn’t really do much to help you feel better. After getting destroyed by the Brooklyn Nets by 26 points on opening night, the Dubs one-upped themselves on the holiday, losing 138-99 to the Milwaukee Bucks.
It’s safe to say that when you lose by 39 points you probably didn’t execute your keys to the game. But let’s check them out anyway.
Key #1: Grab the rebounds
The key: Be competitive on the glass.
The outcome: The Warriors had 43 rebounds to the Bucks’ 60.
You could make the case that the Warriors were actually quite competitive on the glass, because they had 10 offensive rebounds while Milwaukee had 11. It was on the defensive glass where the discrepancy — 49-33 — really showed up. But I’m not sure that was because the Bucks had better rebounding; I think it was just more opportunities.
Golden State missed a whopping 65 shots in the game, compared to just 41 for Milwaukee.
More opportunities for rebounds usually means more rebounds.
Although the offensive rebound numbers don’t look so good anymore, so it’s safe to say that the Dubs didn’t do all that well rebounding the ball, even if the main issue was their lack of offense.
Grading the key: 4/10
Key #2: Let Steph cook
The key: Get Steph Curry going.
The outcome: Curry led the Warriors with 19 points, but it wasn’t the type of performance that we’ve grown accustomed to. The greatest shooter of all-time struggled to find the bottom of the net, shooting 6-17 for the game. For the second straight contest, he was just 2-10 from three-point range.
But most concerning was simply the lack of overall offensive impact. We’ve seen many questionable Warriors lineups excel offensively simply because of Curry’s presence, and the spacing he creates due to his gravity. But his current crop of teammates haven’t figured that out yet.
It was jarring how often the Warriors treated Curry like he was just another player. They didn’t get him the ball when he sprung open; they forced their own isolations rather than giving him the rock; they stood stagnant while he tried to get going.
Curry didn’t have a very good game, but his teammates need to do much, much better.
Grading the key: 2/10
Key #3: Limit Milwaukee’s other reigning All-Star
The key: Limit the offensive impact of Khris Middleton.
The outcome: Middleton was Milwaukee’s best offensive player. He got open looks time and time again, and knocked them in. He hit step-backs and pull-ups, and made the Dubs defenders look silly all day long.
When the dust had settled, the All-Star forward had 31 points on 10-15 shooting, including 6-8 from distance, with 5 assists for good measure.
Grading the key: 0.5/10
Better luck Sunday, I guess.