No Steph, no problem.
The Golden State Warriors were tasked with playing a road game on Friday night against a game Memphis Grizzlies squad, without the face of their franchise, Steph Curry. And, for that matter, without two of their leading bench players, James Wiseman and Eric Paschall.
They were up for the task. And then some.
The final score didn’t end up being indicative of the play — the Dubs won by just 13, cruising to a 116-103 finish. It wasn’t nearly that close, as Golden State spent most of the night either leading by 20 or more points, or knocking on the door. They had a 19-point halftime lead, pushed it up to 25 in the third quarter, and never looked in danger of throwing it away.
So how did the shorthanded Warriors get the job done so emphatically?
It started with stellar play from two wings who, if they play like this regularly, can catapult the team to a new tier.
Andrew Wiggins had his best performance since donning a Dubs jersey, splashing in a season-high 40 points on 14-for-24 shooting, including 6-for-11 from deep. He was the team’s go-to scoring option all night long, and also contributed 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals, without committing a foul.
Wiggins hammer off the miss pic.twitter.com/M8y2HKFNO5— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 20, 2021
And then there was Jordan Poole. Poole continued his post-G League tear, with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 3-for-6 from distance. His playmaking was on display, even if he only finished with 2 assists, and he didn’t turn the ball over a single time.
Watch Steph on the sideline celebrating JP's three before it even went in pic.twitter.com/i3GXX8GhUc— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 20, 2021
JP doing what he wants right now pic.twitter.com/5qHFUvqIml— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 20, 2021
Those were the catalysts, but they were far from the only stories. Damion Lee and Kevon Looney had season-highs in the scoring department, with 21 and 11, respectively, and Draymond Green had a stat line that was almost satirical it was so Draymondian: 2 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, +24.
Everything is dropping right now pic.twitter.com/ZlnAn5dwPY— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 20, 2021
The ball moved, even without Curry’s gravity, as the team cashed in 31 assists to just 13 turnovers. The defense was dynamic, forcing 20 turnovers, allowing just 11 fastbreak points, and holding Memphis to a mere 72 points through three quarters.
But perhaps most inspiring is that nothing the Warriors did felt unsustainable. Sure, you can’t count on 65 points from Wiggins and Poole every night, but normally when a team overperforms it’s because they did something unrepeatable, like shoot 60% from three-point range, or hilariously outrebound their opponent. The Warriors didn’t do that. They shot just 36.6% from deep. They were outrebounded, and gave up more free throws than they shot.
They just played solid offense, and even more solid defense, and spent the better part of 48 minutes making the right decisions. They were simply the better basketball team, and that wasn’t propped up by anything fleeting.
That bodes well for Saturday’s game which is against, you guessed it ... the Grizzlies.
I’ve never been so happy to look (mostly) bad.
Weird things do, indeed, happen in the NBA. Sometimes they’re nice, too.