The Golden State Warriors not only climbed to .500 on Tuesday night, but they earned their first convincing win of the season. Their 116-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons wasn’t a blowout, and it wasn’t a start-to-finish lead.
But it was the first time this season that they looked clearly better than their opponent. So let’s see how they did with my pregame keys to victory.
Make it Steffortless
The key: Steph Curry must be the best player on the court by a wide margin.
The outcome: Curry had his best game of the season by a long shot. He led all scorers with 31 points, and was hyper efficient in getting there: 9-for-17 shooting, 5-for-9 from deep, 8-for-8 at the charity strip.
No one on the Pistons was in his galaxy, and the only person he kept for company was his own teammate, Andrew Wiggins.
But even there it was clear who the best player was, as it should be.
That was the Curry the Warriors need, and they prioritized him and got him the ball the way they need to, though there’s still room to improve there.
Grading the key: 8.5 out of 10
Make Blake shoot
The key: Make Blake Griffin live — and more likely die — with his jump shot.
The outcome: This one is mostly incomplete, as Griffin only played 17 minutes before leaving the game under concussion protocol.
But when he was on the court, the Warriors handled this one well. Two of Griffin’s three shot attempts came from beyond the arc, though it’s worth noting that he made both of them.
Still, the Dubs would be happy knowing he was hoisting triples, and not feasting on their undersized defenders the way he did when he made six All-Star teams.
It wasn’t all good: he grabbed five rebounds (something he’s struggled at this year), and earned a trip to the free throw line. But for the most part, the Warriors did their job.
Grading the key: 7.5 out of 10
Keep Plumlee from easy buckets
The key: Don’t let Mason Plumlee beat James Wiseman on back cuts and lobs.
The outcome: One area where James Wiseman has struggled to find his NBA feet — and he’s admitted this — is in letting his man get behind him. Players are larger and faster at the NBA level, and have more room to operate with, and it’s common for rookie centers to lose them.
Mason Plumlee isn’t a great offensive player, but he is good at getting lobs at the rim.
Not on Tuesday. Plumlee recorded just two points, and they came on free throws. He gave the rookie some lessons in rebounding, and he was part of why Wiseman fouled out in just 22 minutes of action, but he didn’t beat him with lobs.
Grading the key: 9.5 out of 10
Get a wing going
The key: One of Andrew Wiggins or Kelly Oubre Jr. have a nice night scoring.
The outcome: Hello and welcome, Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggs had his best game as a Warrior, splashing in 27 points on 9-for-19 shooting, and going 5-for-8 from beyond the arc (and 4-for-4 from the free throw line). He had 17 points in the fourth quarter alone, when the Warriors turned a nail-biter into a double digit win.
If that Wiggins shows up every game day, the Warriors will be in decent shape.
Kelly Oubre Jr. also had his best offensive game of the season, making a non-dunk for the first time all year. He finished with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, and went 1-for-4 from distance and 1-for-3 from the freebie line.
Grading the key: 8.5 out of 10
Well done, Dubs. Now enjoy sleeping in your own beds.