Prior to the game I laid out four keys for a Warriors victory. I did not include “Damion Lee improvise a brilliant inbounds play to hit a game-winner,” so clearly I am an idiot. Let’s proceed anyway.
Remember that Steph exists
The key: Make Steph Curry’s offense the biggest priority.
The outcome: The Warriors struggled with this in the first half. They still didn’t get Curry the ball enough. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins often got the ball in the half court and took their man one-on-one rather than looking to get the ball to the greatest shooter the sport has ever seen.
It was more than three minutes into the game when Curry attempted his first shot. That’s fine when Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are the starting wings; not so much when it’s Wiggins and Oubre.
Things changed a bit in the second half. Curry started catching fire, and went into ultra-aggressive mode. He earned nine free throws, and scored 25 points in the half.
As that happened, his teammates started to find him. But Curry deserves the credit here, not his teammates, and they desperately need to make him a priority before he starts forcing the issue.
Grading the key: 4.5/10
The key: Feel the impact of Draymond Green’s return to the lineup.
The outcome: Green ended up not playing, and being ruled out for Tuesday’s game as well.
Grading the key: N/A
The key: Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. make some shots, preferably more than just a few.
The outcome: Wiggins took this one mildly to heart, shooting 6-for-15, including 2-for-3 from distance.
Oubre? Not so much, as he shot just 3-for-16, including 0-for-6 from deep, and for the third straight game failed to make a non-dunk.
The Warriors made up for it with strong bench performances by Damion Lee, Eric Paschall, Mychal Mulder, and Jordan Poole ... but those guys weren’t the pregame key!
Grading the key: 2/10
Keep LaVine at bay
The key: Don’t let Zach LaVine do what Khris Middleton did.
The outcome: LaVine definitely got his numbers, as he finished the game with 33 points. But he needed 23 shots and nine free throws to get there, and turned the ball over seven times.
It wasn’t always a clean defensive effort against the man who finished 11th in the league in scoring a year ago. But it was definitely a spirited effort, especially down the stretch. And while LaVine still scored a lot, he didn’t make it look easy and dominant the way Middleton did on Christmas.
Grading the key: 6/10
Good enough for a win.