Warriors: Week In Review, February 8-14, 2021
(originally written 2/14/21)
105-100 loss at San Antonio 2/8
114-91 win at San Antonio 2/9
111-105 win vs Orlando 2/11
134-117 loss vs Brooklyn 2/13
At the end of play Monday, a number of Golden State Warriors loyalists stood agape and wondered "What the hell is wrong with Draymond?"
At the end of the 2Q Saturday, a number of Golden State Warriors loyalists kneeled and prayed "Don't let anything be wrong with Draymond!"
We'll start with Saturday's incident: after he closed out hard on Brooklyn's Kevin Durant in the right corner, Warriors F Draymond Green collapsed in a heap out-of-bounds and remained down as his teammates played 5-on-4. I immediately flashed back to Andrew Bogut lying injured under the hoop during the 2016 NBA Finals and concluded Green's season was over. Either his PCL or his MCL or his ACL had just ripped before everyone's eyes, and now Juan Toscano-Anderson would have to start at center indefinitely.
There's no denying Green's importance to the team when his emotions and turnovers are under control. Golden State was blown out by a combined 65 points in its first two games without Green, but has been in almost every game since he returned from his season-opening injury (except for the first one).
The Warriors have been held under 100 points five times this season. Green sat two of those games, and played just 17 minutes in another (his injury return).
Golden State's current (involuntary) reliance on small ball is working—and by "working", I mean keeping them competitive—because Green continues to be one of the best undersized centers the league has ever seen. Maybe even the best, pound-for-pound.
It can't be much fun for a 6'6", 230-pound guy to regularly bang with dudes 6'10", 250 and up, but he's been doing it now dating back to 2015 without complaint—and Green is not one to keeps his feelings bottled up. I'm often critical of the guy, but I've got to give him credit where it's due.
With all Warriors 6'9" and up unavailable until at least the latter part of February and coach Jarron Collins showing no interest in resuming his playing career, the Dubs may have never NEEDED Green more than they do at present.
And there he was Saturday night, lying in a heap clutching his right leg.
A simple, routine close-out had just put the Warriors back in the lottery. Great, just great.
(For the record, it was a good close-out; Durant missed the three way short.)
But by the 3Q, Green was back in action, although his presence had little impact on the hard-charging Nets—Bill Russell himself wasn't likely to slow down those guys. Still, a healthy Green spares us Warrior fans the indignity of Mychal Mulder and Damion Lee guarding Marc Gasol and DeAndre Ayton in the coming weeks.
Of course, having Green on the floor is only beneficial IF he's not hoisting 35-footers off the backboard with the game on the line! You've seen the play by now, if not on ESPN, then on Shaqtin' A Fool—on Monday 2/8 vs. the Spurs, Golden State trailed 103-100 with eight seconds to go in the game. Green received a pass closer to halfcourt than the arc. Erroneously believing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich instructed an instant foul, Green heaved, hoping to get three free throws.
He did not get three free throws. The Dubs did not get the ball back.
My notes from that play: "SO much wrong with that shot". I could actually compose a paragraph on the idiocy of that shot, and if I did, it would begin with the fact Green had just missed two free throws—of everyone on the floor at the time, he's the LAST dude Golden State would want on the line, and the FIRST dude San Antonio would want on the line.
It's like the famous episode of South Park where Cartman, using a carrot, tries to train a horse to bite his enemy's junk, but the horse just sucks the carrot instead. Cartman: "Don't do THAT! He'll LIKE that!"
All Warriors loyalists to Green as he released the fateful shot: "Don't shoot THAT! They'll LIKE that!"
Twenty-four hours later, in a wacky 2021 back-to-back, the Spurs and Warriors faced off once more down at the AT&T Center. Not only did the Dubs ride a huge (36-20) 3Q to blow out San Antonio, but Warriors G Stephen Curry made one of his wildest shots ever with about two minutes left in the 1Q. Fouled by Spurs G Lonnie Walker in mid-air, Curry spun around and converted a no-look, back-to-the-hoop flip off the glass with his right hand!
The Warriors committed just 10 turnovers—exactly half their Monday total—and held the Spurs to 37% shooting. Seven different Warriors scored in double figures.
On Thursday, 2/11, the Warriors again erupted in the 3Q and held on to sink a scrappy Orlando Magic team that was down Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and more but still led by eight at halftime. Golden State's 1Q strategy: launch from deep, and hope for the best—they set a franchise record with 18 threes attempted in that quarter and finished with 50 for the night (making 20). Curry alone was 10-for-19 on threes, not attempting a two-pointer until 10:14 remaining in the 3Q!
Orlando star C Nikola Vucevic scored 25 points, but shot 8-of-23 and didn't really impact the game. Guard Terrence Ross played 41 minutes off the bench, scoring 20 on 8-of-27 shooting (including an 0-for-7 start); he shot the Magic into an early deficit and then shot them right back into the lead. The boxscore credits Ross with three assists, about three more than I would have guessed.
The downside to the Brooklyn loss 2/13: Golden State still seeks its first three-game win streak of the season.
The upside to the Brooklyn loss 2/13: Green avoided major injury, greatly increasing Golden State's odds for a three-game win streak this season.
OBSERVATION: Versus Orlando, Curry sank 10+ triples in a game for the 17th time in his career—most all-time by far (teammate Klay Thompson is next up, with five such games). He could have had an 11th but one was ruled a two-pointer upon review. For the week, Curry averaged 32.8 PPG and cut down on the reckless passes that plagued him in late January (just two total turnovers in the Spurs games before 10 against the Magic and Nets).
Just how much did Golden State launch against the Magic? They shot no free throws until 1:45 remaining in the 2Q.
Interestingly, if Green had hit that wild end-of-game 35-footer at the Spurs 2/8, he'd have completed a triple-double. He still recorded 40 assists during the week, running his streak of double-digit assist games up to five before dishing out "just" eight dimes vs. the Nets.
The last Warrior to record 10+ assists in five straight games? Mookie Blaylock 20 years ago.
Dubs F Andrew Wiggins ran the break to perfection on two consecutive possessions against the Magic, setting up his own layup as well as a score by Toscano-Anderson. During the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors often—too often—wind up launching less-than-ideal threes in transition; high praise for Wiggins to venture all the way to the rim. More, please.
Warriors forward/center Draymond Green began the week with a colossal blunder, and ended it with an injured leg.
STANDOUT SWAT: I have to go with Wiggins going HIGH to reject Vucevic in the 2Q vs. Orlando; Vucevic had Warriors G Kelly Oubre on a mismatch down low, but Wiggins delivered the help defense. At the time, Golden State's offense had completely stalled, and it needed every big play on D that it could get.
Late in that same game, Green also went high to block a Dwayne Bacon three from the right corner, keeping Golden State's lead at 11.
TOP STOPS: I want to choose a wild sequence at the 10:20 mark of the 4Q vs. Orlando when the Warriors forced four Magic misses on one possession (including a dunk), only to watch Bacon's three fly so off-target that it banked in. I also want to choose the aforementioned Green closeout on Durant that forced a well-short three from the corner.
I REALLY want to choose Green winning a Spurs 3-on-1 fast-break with about 3:40 left in the 2Q of the 2/8 game. Spurs G Dejounte Murray stripped Dubs F Kent Bazemore, and Murray plus teammate Devin Vassell headed the other way with fellow Spur DeMar DeRozan close behind. But Vassell fumbled right into Green's hands near the basket...D'OH!
But in the end, let's go with Toscano-Anderson's sequence vs. Orlando: blocking a 1Q Ross second-chance dunk, then taking a charge from sturdy Magic F James Ennis immediately afterward.
C'MON, REF: This week, young F Eric Paschall got a couple of bad breaks from the officials. Early in the 2Q of the 2/9 clash with San Antonio, Spurs G Patty Mills stumbled over himself, which was ruled a foul on Paschall (with what, his mind?) In the 4Q of that game, Paschall was whistled for a collision with Spurs C Drew Eubanks that was also not his fault.
Setting the tone for those two calls: a 1Q loose ball incorrectly ruled out-of-bounds off Wiggins' foot rather than the foot of Spurs F Keldon Johnson. But hey, the refs didn't call Curry's double-dribble in the 1Q of the 2/8 game, so perhaps I should digress here.
NUMBERS: Oubre, much-maligned for his poor outside shooting early in the season, hit 10 of 25 threes (40%) during the week. But reserve G Brad Wanamaker continued to struggle with his shot (3-of-14 overall from the floor, 21%).
The bench combo of guards Mulder and Lee combined to shoot THREE two-pointers in 134 minutes of action last week. Mulder shot 5-of-13 on threes, with his lone two-point attempt being a cutting dunk that I was unaware he was capable of! Lee, meanwhile, supplied solid defense to compensate for a 6-for-20 three-point shooting week.
Versus the Nets, Curry went 8-of-8 inside the three-point line, but only 2-for-9 from beyond.
BEST DUB SUB: Effective with both his inside and outside games, Paschall poured in 16 in 17 minutes against the Nets, on 7-of-10 shooting. Despite the bad whistles, he was 6-of-7 in the Spurs rematch, contributing 15 points in 16 minutes and sinking two consecutive straight-on 3's near the end of the game.
Bazemore contributed two double-digit scoring games during the week, but much of it came in semi-garbage time.
GRINWORTHY: Curry shook Spurs F Rudy Gay into oblivion twice in the 2/9 matchup. First, with about 90 seconds left in the 2Q, Curry's crossovers and jukes left Gay behind as he converted a layup. Then, with 5:19 to go in the 3Q, Curry's moves sent Gay into the paint...and Curry to the three-point line, where he cashed in.
(Curry also nailed a 1Q buzzer-beating deep three over/through Gay's defense in the 2/8 game, just for informational purposes.)
Paschall's wild missed layup off the backboard vs. Brooklyn may or may not land him on Shaqtin' A Fool again.
THE FLURRY: Versus SA 2/8, Golden State opened the 4Q 0-for-8 and fell behind 10 points. Curry re-entered and ignited an 8-0 burst that kept the Warriors close...winding down the 1Q against Orlando, Mulder nailed two straight threes, then Curry—not to be outdone—buried two consecutive stepback threes from the right wing. That 12-2 run nullified an 8-0 run by the Magic.
IN THE ZONE (SA 1): The Warriors' broadcast team felt compelled to remind us viewers ad nauseum about their 3-40 record in their past 43 regular-season games in San Antonio, conveniently neglecting to mention Golden State's 3-1 record there in the 2017 and 2018 playoffs. What GIVES?...Green opened the scoring with a three, the only one he made all week...Curry, triple-teamed, completed a no-look dime to Oubre for the slam late in the 3Q. He was also whistled for a charge late in the 4Q that might have landed Kerr in jail for the night had the officials not overturned it on review.
IN THE ZONE (SA 2): Golden State didn't get its first FG until a quick-fire Curry 3 with 8:35 left in the 1Q...Green turned the clock back four years with a coast-to-coast layup off a DeRozan miss in the 3Q...Toscano-Anderson missed at least three layups in the 1H...Lee scored five straight points in the 2Q, on a left corner three and a floater off the glass...in one sequence, Bazemore sank a corner three, stopped a spinning Walker on the other end, then converted a transition layup that ran the Warrior lead up to 20.
IN THE ZONE (ORL): Early in the 2Q, Oubre sank a laser three to beat the shot clock. He was then freed up to bury another 28 seconds later, putting GS up 13...The Warriors went on an 11-0 run early in the 3Q to erase Orlando's halftime lead...Green threw down two dunks late in the 3Q on his way to eight points...as Orlando endured a lengthy scoring drought in the 4Q, Curry nailed a three, then seconds later deflected a pass meant for a cutting Vucevic. Green corralled the loose ball and found Oubre for a dunk, which put Golden State up by 11.
IN THE ZONE (BRO): I'd rather not relive this one. Green turned out to be okay. Nobody caught COVID. Curry didn't re-braid his hair. Let's just leave it at that.