The Golden State Warriors were playing with their backs against the wall on Thursday but, as they so often do, they showed up when it mattered most. The Dubs dominated the Los Angeles Lakers 127-100 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, winning so thoroughly that LA didn’t play their key players at all in the fourth quarter.
Just like that, the series is tied, and we’re headed to LA for a pivotal Game 3 on Saturday.
So let’s grade the folks that got it done. As always, grades are weighted based on my expectations for each player, with a “B” grade representing that player’s average performance.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. League-average TS this year was 58.2%.
28 minutes, 11 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 5-for-10 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 1-for-4 free throws, 46.8% TS, +15
Green’s numbers were meaningful, but let me show you even more meaningful numbers: 11 points, 5-for-11 shooting, 4 turnovers.
Those are the numbers of Anthony Davis, the star of Game 1. With Kevon Looney out of the starting lineup, Steve Kerr had Green be the primary defender on Davis. Not only did Dray do a wonderful job, but he almost entirely eliminated AD’s impact.
And then he backed it up by nearly having a triple-double, despite playing blowout-limited minutes. The offense was aggressive, especially early, and he was only a slightly more efficient day away from being perfect.
DRAY— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 5, 2023
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
13 minutes, 15 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 6-for-9 shooting, 3-for-6 threes, 83.3% TS, +5
JMG was surprisingly thrust into the starting lineup and ... look, I didn’t expect “Should JaMychal Green start Game 3?” to be a question that came out of this game, but here we are. His spacing disrupted LA’s defense, his athleticism showed up in transition, and he generally just played really well.
I’ve been a bigger defender of JMG than most this year but I’ll be honest: didn’t see that one coming.
30 minutes, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 3-for-8 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 56.4% TS, +35
Wiggins was quietly excellent. He proved once again to be the opposite of what he was in Minnesota: a player who can help a team win even without scoring. His defense was strong, regardless of the first half that LeBron James had. He made fast decisions with the ball in his hands, and was sharp in every area of the game.
Good stuff all around.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
30 minutes, 20 points, 4 rebounds, 12 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 7-for-12 shooting, 3-for-5 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 75.1% TS, +24
I wondered if Curry might need a Game 7 vs. the Kings type performance in this game, but instead he went in a different direction. Curry put on a quarterbacking and playmaking clinic, setting teammates up all night long. He spoon-fed his teammates layups, and also just went out of his way to make sure that they were getting the ball in their hands and heating up.
And when the Warriors needed him most? Then he stepped up and made big shots.
AND ONEEEEEEEE— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 5, 2023
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
31 minutes, 30 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 11-for-18 shooting, 8-for-11 threes, 83.3% TS, +28
Game 2 Klay? Is that gonna be the thing now?
30 Points— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 5, 2023
8 Threes@KlayThompson went to work ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/2Oi0yqMIjP
Either way, Klay found his shot in this game in a big way. He talked about waiting 12 years for this matchup, and on Thursday he looked like he had. I don’t know what else to say, the Warriors are virtually unbeatable when Thompson plays like this.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in scoring.
10 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 foul, 1-for-4 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 37.5% TS, -5
I thought Kuminga might play serious minutes in this game, but instead he only played in garbage time. I can’t say he really did anything in garbage time to prove he should be playing more, but you really can’t learn anything at all from these minutes.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
12 minutes, 6 points, 8 rebounds, 3-for-6 shooting, 50.0% TS, +11
Despite battling a sickness, Looney still took the court for 12 minutes, and still thoroughly dominated the glass. This game proved something that I wrote about before the game: the Warriors can benefit from playing Looney a lot when Davis is off the court. Not because Looney is lost against AD, but because LA’s other bigs are lost against Looney.
Grade: G for Gritty
9 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, +1
Just garbage time for Lamb, and I suspect it will be that way all series (and playoffs). Didn’t really get to see much from him in the garbage time minutes.
Gary Payton II
9 minutes, 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 3-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, 90.2% TS, +1
Somewhat surprisingly, Payton didn’t play in this game until garbage time had arrived. He looked excellent in garbage time, and just as importantly, he looked excellent cheerleading on the bench during the game. He certainly wasn’t sulking about his role change.
28 minutes, 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 3-for-9 shooting, 2-for-8 threes, 44.4% TS, +8
DiVincenzo played a larger role in this game than I was anticipating, but you could understand why. He did so many things to help the offense, while also providing his excellent perimeter defense that looks so much better against a team that doesn’t have De’Aaron Fox on it.
Donte dropped a DIME— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 5, 2023
The shot still isn’t falling for him the way we’d all love to see, but he played some high-quality basketball in this game.
16 minutes, 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 3-for-6 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 50.0% TS, +8
Poole played very well in Game 1, but Steve Kerr wasn’t too keen to play him a bunch in this game ... then again, the foul trouble made it impossible to play him anyway. I thought JP played in control and made good decisions, and generally looked like an asset ... he just couldn’t stay on the floor.
26 minutes, 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 fouls, 3-for-9 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, 48.5% TS, +4
Moody was one of the first players off the bench, and I’m guessing he’ll be one of the first players off the bench on Saturday, too. This was a game where he did everything that Kerr asked of him. He brought endless energy and fight, and showed up on the ground for every loose ball and in the air for every available rebound. He made open shots, buckled down (and rotated!) on defense, and made some slick passes.
Moses closed out the quarter in style ‼️— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 5, 2023
His efficiency wasn’t great, but only because he took a few overly-aggressive shots in garbage time ... shots he earned the right to take with how he played in non-garbage time.
Thursday’s inactives: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Andre Iguodala, Ryan Rollins