The Golden State Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-110 on Saturday night. It was not a very good loss. It was not as close as the score would indicate. The Dubs were getting crushed at halftime.
Considering the circumstances — they had an entirely healthy team, had the last two days off, and were finally back at home — it felt like far and away the worst performance of the year. Plus, it’s Saturday night. And they play again tomorrow.
So I really don’t want to belabor this one. But grades must be handed out so I’m going to run through them quickly. I may write words about the Warriors for a living, but I think we can all agree that the fewer words written about this game, the better.
As always, grades are based on my expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents a player’s average performance.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. Entering Saturday’s game, league-average TS was 57.1%.
18 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 3-for-4 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 100.0% TS, -1
Green was ejected in the third quarter on a bizarre sequence that I did not know was in the rulebook. My ignorance there was validated when Steve Kerr said he didn’t know, either.
Dray shoved Cavs’ All-Star Donovan Mitchell on one of Cleveland’s possessions. On the ensuing Golden State possession, Mitchell honed in on Green from across the court and did his best Fred Warner impression, beelining from one side of the hardwood to the other to collide with Green while making no actual attempt at a basketball move.
The refs reviewed Mitchell’s foul to see if it should be a Flagrant 1. Not only did they determine that it should not be (which I disagree with, but whatever), but they also went back a possession and retroactively assigned Green a technical foul. He already had one, so this resulted in an ejection.
You can — and I do — hold two things to be true. The first is that the refereeing on the play is best described with an eight-letter word that rhymes with “pulpit” that I try to avoid using in published articles. Retroactively assigning a technical foul is silly enough as is, but doing so when you’re reviewing a play for the other team makes it downright nonsensical. And I think most of us can agree that if Green did not have his reputation, that play would never be considered a technical.
The second is that those complaints don’t absolve Dray of blame. He had already picked up one tech. He flirted with a second when he got into it with Jarrett Allen. He flirted with a second when he got into it with Mitchell following the hip check. And while I thought the actual second tech gave strong “let me talk to the manager” vibes, he still made a play knowing full well what the potential ramifications would be. And those ramifications really hurt the Warriors.
It was a double bummer because Green was having one of the best games on the team. He scored Golden State’s first five points, and moved to 8-for-15 on threes this season. He was doing a little bit of everything. He was one of the only players on the home team playing with any kind of energy.
But he took himself out and I can’t give him a good grade for that.
24 minutes, 2 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, -3
Looney looked a bit more comfortable on Saturday than he did on Sunday against the same Cleveland frontcourt. He gobbled up rebounds, with more than Allen and Evan Mobley combined. He made life difficult when Cleveland’s two-center lineup tried to score.
He really didn’t do anything on offense though, and nearly fouled out in just half a game’s worth of minutes.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
29 minutes, 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 6-for-12 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 0-for-2 free throws, 50.5% TS, -13
Wiggins had a pretty nice start to the game. He showed energy and aggression and had some brilliance on the offensive glass. I’ve been very hard on Wiggs for his rebounding this year, but he’s been sensational with the offensive Windex lately. Over the last five games, Wiggins has 26 rebounds ... 16 of which have come on the offensive end.
There were other signs of gradual improvement. The three assists were as many as he had in the last seven games combined, though they came with a (tied) season high in turnovers.
He had some good offensive aggression on cuts and rolls, which was good. His jump shot still seems non-existent, though: he’s up (down?) to 4-for-24 on threes and 18-for-34 on free throws.
Signs of life, but still a pretty bad game.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
33 minutes, 30 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 1 foul, 9-for-24 shooting, 4-for-14 threes, 8-for-8 free throws, 54.5% TS, -8
Curry has now hit the 30-point mark in half of the team’s 10 games. And while usually that serves to highlight how awesome he is, right now it‘s highlighting how much Golden State is lacking a second scorer.
We’re 10 games into the year, and the Warriors have only one instance of a non-Curry player scoring 20 points (comically it was Dario Šarić). There have been 445 instances of a player scoring 20 or more points this NBA season. One of those instances has been a Warriors player not named Wardell.
Wiggins isn’t scoring. Klay Thompson seems to fluctuate between high-volume/low-efficiency and low-volume/high-efficiency. Jonathan Kuminga isn’t quite there yet. The Jordan Poole for Chris Paul swap has undeniably helped Golden State, but it’s also clear that the Dubs are missing the burst of buckets that Poole could bring.
I’m getting away from the exercise, which is to grade Curry. He didn’t have a very good game, relative to his godly standards. He wasn’t too efficient, and he had twice as many turnovers as assists, in a game where a lack of ball control doomed the Dubs.
But for the reasons above, it’s getting harder to blame him when he’s not having his best day.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
28 minutes, 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 5-for-16 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 41.5% TS, -7
After the game, Klay called it his worst of the year. I don’t think I really need to add to that.
16 minutes, 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 46.0% TS, 0 plus/minus
Šarić showed some limitations in this one, as it’s very clear that there are Warriors lineups and opposing lineups where he can’t hold up on defense. He also showed how good he can be when deployed well, competing hard on the glass and playing good defense in some matchups.
But he didn’t do very much in this one, honestly.
21 minutes, 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls, 2-for-7 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 8-for-11 free throws, 50.7% TS, -1
I was so happy seeing Kuminga repeatedly attack the basket and draw contact when his shot wasn’t falling. That’s an important part of his game, and after looking at times scared of going to the free throw line in his first two seasons, he’s quite comfortable there now.
Among Golden State’s regular rotation players, Kuminga’s 6.9 free throw attempts per 36 minutes led the team entering Saturday’s game ... and that number will only rise.
Still and all, it was a game with very mediocre efficiency and not a lot else from JK. I maintain the same stance I’ve had most of the year: he’s showing signs that he’s going to put it all together, but he still needs to do the whole putting it together part.
6 minutes, 1 point, 1 rebound, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, 26.6% TS, +4
It wasn’t a lot of run, but TJD got some rotation minutes, and it’s looking like that might become the norm for him.
This wasn’t a notable performance, but just seeing his length, athleticism, and comfort level moving towards and at the rim is a breath of fresh air.
26 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 64.3% TS, -12
For most players, three turnovers is a completely fine number if it comes with nine assists. But it was still a bit jarring to see from Paul, who entered the contest with 66 assists to just seven turnovers on the young season.
It was doubly jarring because they were very uncharacteristic turnovers for CP3 ... to the point that after one of them, he pointed to his own head as though to bully himself for not being smarter.
That was very costly because if there was a game where the Warriors needed Paul’s stabilizing ball-control presence, it was this one.
Even so, the nine assists off the bench are awesome, the growing chemistry with all of his teammates is fantastic, and the return of his mid-range game — and three-point shot — is a fantastic site. Even with a futile full-court heave at a buzzer, Paul had a very efficient game, and is now 14-for-26 over the last three games. That’s great to see after his poor shooting to open the year.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
2 minutes, 3 points, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 75.0% TS, +6
Only garbage time for CoJo, and if we’re being honest, he didn’t do much in that garbage time to endear himself to fans. Also, never a good thing when the mop-up duty player has the best plus/minus.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
Gary Payton II
11 minutes, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1-for-4 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 30.7% TS, -12
GPII returned to the court after missing a game with an illness, and he provided something very valuable: he was mic’d up, and it was phenomenal.
But that was about it. It was probably his worst game of the year, and just not a good matchup for him.
18 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 2-for-4 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 82.0% TS, +2
The Warriors aren’t going to change their starting lineup unless they go on a serious losing streak and are very obviously in need of a switch. And if they do change their starting lineup, I would assume Paul would be inserted into the opening five, since he seemed to take the coming off the bench thing in stride in part due to the fact that Golden State’s starting lineup was the best in the league last year.
But I also can’t help but wonder what the lineup would look like if Moody were swapped in for Wiggins. He had a really good game today, I thought.
8 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, +5
Podziemski is a little further off than Jackson-Davis is, in terms of being an nightly part of the rotation. But it’s pretty clear that Kerr can turn to him at any point without worrying about disaster plays that wreck a unit. Watching his progression is going to be so ful.
Saturday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson, Gui Santos