The Golden State Warriors needed a win on Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans, for a variety of reasons. They needed a win because they’re fighting desperately to move up in the standings. They needed a win because they’ve been playing poorly lately and need to secure some semblance of rhythm and confidence if they want to be competitive in the postseason. They needed a win because three of their final eight games are against the Pelicans, who serve as the only team with a semi-realistic chance of keeping the Warriors out of the play-in tournament.
They played like they needed a win. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprising sentiment, but after the inexcusably lackluster loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves, it is.
They played like they needed a win from the opening tip, and they kept the drive even during the moments of the game when their lead began to shrink.
And most importantly, they did the thing they set out to do, and so desperately needed: they won.
The Dubs started things early, which was a refreshing change of pace after recent slow starts. They scored the first four points of the game, and forced New Orleans to call an early timeout when the score was 8-1. But that timeout did little to quell the Warriors momentum, as they went on a 9-4 run out of the timeout to take a 17-5 lead. They would push it to a 20-point margin a few minutes later, before settling for a clean 39-21 lead at the end of the initial quarter.
To the surprise of no one, it was Steph Curry who led the charge in the first frame. The chef cooked up 17 first-quarter points, and busted out the types of moves that seem to humiliate opponents and shoot down any confidence they might have packed to bring into the arena.
Steph drops the up-and-under pic.twitter.com/kOMUC3D255— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 3, 2021
Steph was running back before the shot dropped pic.twitter.com/gLKkPUedAt— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 4, 2021
The Pelicans fought back a few times, but it never really felt like the Warriors were in danger of surrendering the lead that they had built. The Warriors always had an answer.
Sometimes it was Curry, getting back to his downright disrespectful ways:
Steph put Bledsoe on the floor before draining the three pic.twitter.com/3M8AmbR7cw— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 4, 2021
Zion couldn't stay with Steph pic.twitter.com/RgMiSe0RSB— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 4, 2021
He finished with 41 points and 8 assists, and shot 14-for-26 from the field, and 8-for-18 from distance. Curry now has nine games with at least 40 points this year.
Steph Curry has 8.6% of the NBA's 40-point games this year— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) May 4, 2021
Other times it was Draymond Green who shut the door on the Pels. Green had one of his best games of the year, with aggressive and decisive offense backed by the kind of defense that makes you stop and stare. He finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, and a game-high +21.
And other times it was Andrew Wiggins, who played his secondary scorer role beautifully, supporting Curry in their shared minutes and leading the bench unit. He finished with 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting.
They all played their role in the Warriors cruising by New Orleans 123-108 in what was deemed a “Marvel’s Arena of Heroes” game, with an alternate broadcast tying together Marvel and the NBA, and an award — won by Green — for the most “Hero Points.”
They’ll need to play their roles again on Tuesday if the Warriors want to complete the baseball sweep.
Sure seems like they’re prepared.
Steve Kerr: "We walked into the locker room, and Draymond was yelling at the guys, 'We came here to get two.' Draymond was right."— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) May 4, 2021