Basketball is funny.
On Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors faced the Orlando Magic, who have the worst record in the East. The Warriors were fresh, rested, and had all their healthy players at their disposal.
On Wednesday, the Warriors faced the Miami Heat, who have the best record in the East. The Warriors were tired on the back end of a road back-to-back, and rested Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Otto Porter Jr.
They lost one of those games. They won the other by 14 points.
I’ll let you guess which result corresponded with which game, but if you need a hint, remember how this article started: Basketball is funny.
Now let’s grade the Dubs after a shocking victory, one that prompted the contending Heat to have a bit of a meltdown.
“are you f**king crazy?” pic.twitter.com/xXPsKti9Bf— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 24, 2022
As always, grades are relative to our expectations.
Note: League average true-shooting percentage (TS) was 56.3% entering Wednesday’s games.
30 minutes, 22 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 6 fouls, 9-for-17 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 4-for-8 free throws, 53.6% TS, +26
There are two big takeaways from Kuminga’s performance. The first is that the Warriors performed dramatically better when he was on the court. Single-game individual plus/minus is a bit of a wonky stat, but the Dubs outscored the Heat by 26 points in Kuminga’s 30 minutes, and were outscored by 12 in the 18 minutes when he was on the bench, and that felt just about right. Golden State just looked a lot better when JK was on the court.
Spin— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 24, 2022
The second is that he had a hard time staying on the court. He was in foul trouble for much of the night, and when Miami started attacking him, there was little that he could do, and he fouled out.
Fouls have been an issue for Kuminga this year — he averaged 4.5 per 36 minutes entering the game, and that number will only climb after these stats are tallied. You expect those kinds of issues with a rookie, but it’s still worth pointing out.
When he wasn’t fouling, Kuminga did some really good things on defense. His offense wasn’t the most efficient in this game, but there was certainly still a lot to like.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
37 minutes, 22 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 8-for-16 shooting, 3-for-7 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 63.5% TS, +10
Wiggins had an absolute sense of the moment in this game. He only had 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first half, but dropped 8 straight points during the Warriors 19-0 run to open the second half.
Then, when the broadcast flashed that he had 14 points with just over 2 minutes remaining, and I started thinking about how he still only had a single 20-point game since January, he again took over to put a nail in the Heat’s coffin, with an and-one, a three-pointer, and a pair of free throws on three consecutive possessions to put the game away.
back— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 24, 2022
ANDREW WIGGINS BUCKETS https://t.co/ynsgNvVzhl pic.twitter.com/iKtb9xJ8uU
It was good Wiggins in every sense of the word, and it was great to see.
29 minutes, 2 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, +8
A day after playing minimal minutes and putting up modest numbers, Looney got to play starters minutes again and dominated the glass. The Dubs outrebounded the Heat by 11, and held All-Star center Bam Adebayo to just 9 boards.
Give Looney the bulk of the credit for those things, and for some exceptional defense.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
39 minutes, 30 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 turnovers, 3 fouls, 10-for-18 shooting, 7-for-13 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 77.6% TS, +19
Is Jordan Poole a star? He just might be.
In a game with Wiggins, Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Lowry, Poole was the best player on the court all game long. He’s showing an ability to score from anywhere on the court, and that’s opening the door for him to shoot — and make — more threes. That was expected to be his strength when he came in the league, and now he’s getting to show it off a little.
Add in the stellar playmaking, and some committed defense, and Poole was in control, all while putting on a show that had a flair for the dramatic. The turnovers are a slight stain on an otherwise flawless night, but given that he’s being asked to fill in for not just one of the world’s greatest scorers but also one of the world’s greatest playmakers, we can forgive him.
Poole had a lot of highlights in this game, but nothing as incredible as when he made three triples in as many possessions — all of which were listed at more than 30 feet, and two of which were bonkers. Tell me this dude isn’t special.
J P 3⃣ pic.twitter.com/qYzJAqMJ37— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 24, 2022
THE BANK IS OPEN pic.twitter.com/r7ljB9X9AO— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 24, 2022
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points and assists.
17 minutes, 0 points, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 foul, 0-for-4 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 0.0% TS, +6
Moody didn’t really do anything in this game, and it would be easy to not notice that he played. No big mistakes, and sorry for repeating myself, but that’s a great sign. Just didn’t offer much on the positive end, either.
19 minutes, 9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 2-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 94.5% TS, +6
It was quite a Draymondian statline that Bjelica threw out against the Heat. His playmaking continues to impress — there’s no overstating just how smart a lot of his passes are. He reads defenses well, and passes the ball with the intent to put players in a better position. His defense has definitely gotten better, and he’s found some of his early season efficiency, too.
Especially with Dray out, Bjelica’s presence is really important for the Warriors.
2 minutes, 0 points, -4
JTA didn’t get much of an opportunity in this one, as he just popped on the court for a few possessions in the third quarter.
31 minutes, 22 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 5-for-10 shooting, 3-for-6 threes, 9-for-9 free throws, 78.8% TS, +5
Lee has been struggling on offense lately — and been glued to the bench — so this was great to see. He hadn’t scored double figures since the first day of March, and hadn’t hit the 20-point mark since the first day of February, but absolutely exploded against Miami’s stout defense.
22 PTS | 6 REB | 3 AST— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 24, 2022
Big performance from @Dami0nLee tonight @UAbasketball || Second Look pic.twitter.com/ldsDjynd6P
Lee got it done in a variety of ways on Wednesday, but most impressive was his ability to get to the free throw line, where he converts the freebies at an elite rate. After Tuesday’s disappointing showing, there was nothing better in this game than watching the Warriors get easy points, and Lee led that charge.
Gary Payton II
27 minutes, 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 5-for-6 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 91.7% TS, -1
Now there’s the GP2 we all know and love. After missing eight straight games, Payton returned on Tuesday but only played 6 minutes. On Wednesday he played his usual big run of minutes, showed off his lockdown defense, grabbed boards over taller players, and attacked the hoop with and without the ball for high-quality looks.
9 minutes, 0 points, 1 assist, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, -5
Really nothing of note in this game for Chiozza. He got on the court for a few stretches, but really didn’t do much of anything.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
Wednesday’s inactives: Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr., Klay Thompson, Quinndary Weatherspoon, James Wiseman