The Golden State Warriors are wrapping up their seven-game home stand, and they have a chance to make it pretty. With a win tonight, Golden State would finish the home stand 5-2, despite six of the seven games coming against teams that made the postseason a year ago, and figure to make it again this season.
They’ve come along way since getting blown out by 65 points in the first two games of the season, just three weeks ago.
Who: Golden State Warriors (6-4) vs. Indiana Pacers (6-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. PT
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
TV: NBA TV and NBC Sports Bay Area
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner
Warriors: Beat Raptors 106-105, 4-1 in their last 5 games
Pacers: Lost to Kings 127-122, 2-3 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):
Warriors: 108.6 offense (21st), 111.5 defense (20th), -2.9 net (23rd)
Pacers: 113.2 offense (11th), 110.1 defense (16th), +3.2 net (9th)
The Warriors have proved over the last week and a half that they can do what felt impossible after the first few days of the season: beat good basketball teams. The smoked the Portland Trail Blazers. They used an epic rally to stun the Los Angeles Clippers. They beat the Toronto Raptors, despite the worst shooting night of Steph Curry’s career.
Now they get another chance, against one of the best teams in the East. Indy has been mighty impressive all year. Domantas Sabonis has built on his All-Star selection a year ago. Victor Oladipo looks fully healthy. Myles Turner is blocking shots like it’s easy, and he and Sabonis seem to have figured out how to share the court. Malcolm Brogdon has been nothing short of sensational in every phase of the game. And new coach Nate Bjorkgren has them playing an exciting and effective brand of basketball.
It’s yet another test for the Warriors, who seem to be hanging in basketball purgatory of sorts. The Dubs have played well enough in recent games to give fans optimism, but they haven’t yet turned the corner and emphatically staked their flag as an elite team.
In other words, Golden State looks like a team that could be really good. But they haven’t yet proven that they are.
Here then, is another measuring stick game.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.
Last week, in the first game against the Clippers, Curry struggled a little bit, shooting just 5-for-17. He responded two days later, against the same Clippers team, by pouring in 38 points and 11 assists on 13-for-24 shooting.
Against the Raptors on Sunday, Curry again struggled to score, as he went just 2-for-16 from the field, representing his worst shooting game as a pro.
Steve Kerr has often said that Curry doesn’t have back to back bad games. The Pacers have a nice defense, with strong perimeter defenders. Popping off for a big scoring night won’t be easy ... but no one does it better than Steph.
Pacer to watch: Myles Turner.
Turner has started the season by blocking a truly ridiculous number of shots. Prior to Monday’s game (apologies if he doesn’t block a shot on Monday, but I’m writing this ahead of time), he was averaging 4.1 blocks per game, despite playing just 30 minutes a night. He has more blocks than fouls, which is just bonkers.
He’s also started to learn how to play next to Sabonis. Turner’s scoring rate has dropped a tiny bit, but he’s scoring far more efficiently than at any point in his career, despite the fact that he’s been cold from beyond the arc to start the year.
The Warriors have shown a weakness in scoring at the rim against rim-protecting centers, and have been burnt by offensively-talented 5s a few times this year. Turner can do damage.
Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis has been on a tear to start the season, putting up offensive numbers that might be mistaken for Nikola Jokic’s if you looked at them blindly.
Prior to Monday’s game he was averaging 21.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game, while also providing quality defense.
Green, as we all know, is one of if not the best defensive player in the league. Watching him try and keep Sabonis at bay will be basketball at its finest.
Keys to victory
- Take advantage of the fact that the Warriors had an off day on Monday while the Pacers played and traveled.
- Bench mob needs to once again win the second unit battle.
- Don’t let Myles Turner’s presence keep the offense from being aggressive.
- Hold Victor Oladipo to an inefficient night shooting.
Grab that dub, Dubs.