The Golden State Warriors got an impressive and much-needed win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, with Steph Curry and Draymond Green bringing star-level performances to the Smoothie King Center.
With the win, the Warriors moved into the No. 8 spot in the West, provisionally controlling a double-elimination spot in the play-in tournament, rather than the dreaded single-elimination. It also put four games — as well as two teams — between the Warriors and Pelicans, which has the Dubs looking essentially locked into a postseason spot.
A good win, all around. But how did they do with their keys to victory? Let’s revisit my preview and find out.
Keep Ball and Ingram in check
The key: Hold Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to modest offensive nights.
The outcome: The Warriors defense was strong all night, and that was especially on display with how they defended Ingram and Ball. Ingram scored with decent efficiency, but was bottled up for much of the night. It was easy to forget he was on the court, as he took just 11 of the Pelicans’ 90 shots (though he did attempt eight free throws). In all, he ended with 19 points, but wasn’t the force that the All-Star wing often is.
But while the effort on Ingram was just decent, it was stellar on Ball, who shot just 3-for-18 on the night, en route to 7 points. Some of it was just that he missed shots — he went 1-for-9 from beyond the arc — but much of it was the team-wide defensive performance by the Dubs.
Grading the key: 8.5 out of 10.
The key: Find some bench production despite being ravaged by injuries.
The outcome: The Warriors were forced to play a three-man bench thanks to injuries to Damion Lee, Kelly Oubre Jr., Eric Paschall, and James Wiseman.
Didn’t matter. Juan Toscano-Anderson was a bench star once again, with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and lockdown defense. Get that man a 2021-22 contract already. Jordan Poole and Mychal Mulder combined for 17 points and each made a pair of three-pointers.
Those three greatly outplayed the Pelicans bench which, it’s worth noting, was also substantially impacted by injuries.
Grading the key: 9 out of 10.
The key: Keep the ball moving and take advantage of a poor defensive opponent.
The outcome: If you’ve read this website at all this year, you’re probably aware of my frustration with how infrequently the Warriors offense punishes bad defenses. So Monday was a fun night for me.
The Dubs moved the ball out of the gate, and found 39 first quarter points. They finished with 31 assists, numerous open shots beyond the arc and at the rim, and an offensive rating of 119.8 — a mark that would stand as best in the league.
Against a bad defense, that’s exactly what was needed.
Grading the key: 8 out of 10.
All in all, a good showing, and an important win.