The Golden State Warriors needed to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. And the Blazers, resting Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkić, and so many other regulars that they fielded a team even a diehard NBA fan might not recognize, did what they could to make the Dubs job easy.
But if you’ve watched the Warriors play this year, you still weren’t confident. They’ve been useless on the road, and they’ve regularly stared down critical situations and then turned the other way.
So you were still worried that they wouldn’t show up, even when they needed to and when everything was handed to them. And you were worried it would once again start with a slow and sloppy first quarter.
It didn’t. The Dubs set an NBA record with 55 points in the quarter, and truly put the game away in the opening minutes. The end result was a laughable score: 157-101.
So, for the final time this regular season, let’s grade the dudes who got it done. As always, grades are based on my expectations for each player, with a “B” grade representing the average performance for that person. That said, today is a day to be generous.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. League-average TS is 58.2%.
20 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 4-for-7 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 64.3% TS, +23
Not only did Dray play well but, like the other Warriors starters, he got to play limited minutes. That, mixed with having the next five days off, means the Warriors can enter their playoff matchup against the Sacramento Kings very well rested.
The Dubs will hope that Dray can eliminate some of his recent sloppiness on offense by the time Saturday rolls around, but if he plays defense the way he has over the last month, then Golden State should be in good shape.
21 minutes, 4 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 foul, 2-for-4 shooting, 50.0% TS, +26
Another turnover-less game for the Warriors iron man.
Ready for a fun (and crazy) stat?
Kevon Looney finished the season playing all 82 games with 1,957 minutes and just 45 turnovers.— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) April 10, 2023
No other NBA player has played all 82 games with that many minutes and that few turnovers.
The two seasons with the next-closest minutes totals? Both Steve Kerr.
I sincerely hope that the five Warriors players who have monster contracts don’t let Looney ever pay for a meal on the road trips.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in rebounds.
22 minutes, 26 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 turnover, 9-for-15 shooting, 5-for-10 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 79.7% TS, +26
There were only two players in the NBA this year who averaged at least 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists per game (although, ironically, Curry finished just short of that). Steph hit those numbers in 22 minutes, on absurd efficiency.
He’s not human.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
22 minutes, 20 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 7-for-14 shooting, 6-for-11 threes, 71.4% TS, +24
The recent play of the Splash Brothers feels to me like the best they’ve played together since before Klay’s injuries.
If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic about the Dubs’ chances in the playoffs, I’d start there.
Also: congrats to Klay for becoming just the third player in NBA history with 300 threes in a season. What a comeback.
21 minutes, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, 2 turnovers, 3-for-7 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 63.5% TS, +21
Look at that stat line again. Just look at it! Holy smokes that is ridiculous. A point every other minute. An assist every 2.5 minutes. A steal every fourth minute. A handful of rebounds along the way.
Remember when the Warriors bench looked awful? Now, assuming Andrew Wiggins returns for the first series, they’ll be bringing DiVincenzo, Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Gary Payton II off the bench, behind the starting unit that finished with the best five-man net rating in the NBA by a mile.
Anyway, this game by DDV was completely ridiculous. He has turned it on in a huge way lately.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
23 minutes, 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 6-for-9 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 75.9% TS, +35
Talk about a well-rounded game! Wow. What a performance by JK, who did it all ... he scored from every part of the floor, he rebounded and defended with voracity, and he passed the ball very, very well.
The total package from a guy who is looking an awfully lot like the real deal.
12 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 50.0% TS, +10
One of the more interesting things from this game was that Steve Kerr was pretty open about who will play in the playoffs. Even though the Dubs basically put the game out of reach in the first quarter, Kerr didn’t turn things over to the back of the bench until a few minutes into the fourth. Instead — even nursing a 40+ point lead in the third — Kerr got some extra seasoning for the players who will be in the playoff rotation.
So we learned a few things. Three guys didn’t play, and we can assume they’re out of the rotation. Nine guys played a lot, and we can assume they’re in the rotation. And then there was JMG, who played meaningful minutes but not as many as those other nine. Green has been a part of the rotation most of the year, but had five straight DNP-CDs. The minutes he got in this one suggest that he’ll be used in the playoffs, but only in certain matchups.
10 minutes, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 fouls, 2-for-2 shooting, 100.0% TS, +11
Lamb was one of the three players who didn’t play until the fourth quarter. That comes after playing just 4:22 on Friday.
It’s safe to say that he’s a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency player right now ... he won’t be in the rotation, but instead will play if A) there’s an injury or B) Kerr is desperately searching for some kind of spark plug.
Patrick Baldwin Jr.
9 minutes, 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3-for-7 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 57.1% TS, +6
You know a team played well when the player who is +6 has the worst plus/minus on the team. Not surprisingly, Baldwin enters his first postseason on the outside of the rotation.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
Gary Payton II
20 minutes, 4 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 3 fouls, 2-for-4 shooting, 50.0% TS, +17
Payton and DiVincenzo combined for nine steals in 41 minutes. That a pair of small backcourt pests can do that, while also throwing in 14 rebounds and 12 assists is ... look, I wouldn’t want to be De’Aaron Fox, that’s all I’m saying.
GPII is special. And the Warriors decision to trade for him is already paying huge dividends.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in rebounds.
17 minutes, 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 7-for-9 shooting, 4-for-5 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 97.6% TS, +31
Remember when Poole shot 0-for-10 from the field on Friday? Yeah, me neither.
Also, Looney gets the talk of being an iron man, in part because he’s a center with previous injury concerns who also played every game last year. But we shouldn’t let that make us overlook the fact that Poole also played all 82 games, a fact that Kerr gave him a game ball for.
His season has been frustrating at times, but this is a player that can absolutely win the Warriors a playoff game ... or series.
29 minutes, 25 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 fouls, 10-for-14 shooting, 4-for-7 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 86.6% TS, +39
The best performance of Moody’s career, and nothing else is even close. After being in Kerr’s doghouse much of the year, Moody is working his way back into the rotation. He played 10 minutes in the last game and 26 the game before, and him playing a game-high in minutes this year — while other back-of-the-bench players had to wait until the final frame to get in — is telling. It seems he’ll play a sizable role in the playoffs, especially while the Warriors wait for Wiggins to get fully up to speed.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
10 minutes, 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2-for-2 shooting, 2-for-2 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 119.7% TS, +11
This is the last time we’ll see Quiñones in a Warriors jersey this year, as two-way contract restrictions don’t allow him to play in the playoffs (he’ll still practice, travel, and sit on the bench with the team, though). But something tells me it isn’t the last time we see him in a Warriors jersey. He would seem to enter 2023-24 with a gigantic head start towards earning a two-way contract with the team.
Sunday’s inactives: Andre Iguodala, Ty Jerome, Ryan Rollins, Andrew Wiggins