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Game Thread: Rise of the second timeline?
Curry, Wiggins, Thompson all out; Green, and DiVincenzo both Questionable.
The Golden State Warriors are rising. The second timeline, led by Jordan Poole, is developing well in the absence of so many critical veteran players. Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins remain out for this one; joined by Klay Thompson - who continues to rest on the back-to-back games as he adjusts to old man basketball life. But the Warriors have been the best team in the league at home, and seem to building some momentum.
Oh, and one last note, Donte DiVincenzo and Draymond Green are both listed as Questionable at time of writing, you can check for the most recent injury report here (or check the comments below, of course). DiVincenzo had that scary looking hyperextension last night, and Green is reported as being “old” per various sources.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (17-18) vs Utah Jazz (19-17)
WHEN: Wednesday, December 28th, 2022 // 7pm PDT
“When you’re good enough, the team concepts adapt around you.”
That was a quote from Draymond Green last night, talking about Jonathan Kuminga. There were a number of “oh… ok!” plays from Kuminga last night but the one that I keep thinking about is when he has his man on an island in the corner. After a half hearted pump fake brings him a step closer, Kuminga puts a single hand on the ball, pulls it down to his hip and then rotates away to steal it. Here’s the clip from Eric Apricot’s excellent video earlier this morning, timestamped to the moment of perfection.
There was a lot that Kuminga got right. Looking for good clips of that play above, I found this riveting little highlight reel of some of the impact plays Kuminga was making down the stretch. It’s 45 seconds, but look at all the various ways that he’s helping:
The Warriors needed something like this, desperately. So much of the team’s roster and approach this season hinges on finding a 7th and 8th man to emerge from the background noise of the bench rotation and demand playoff minutes.
It isn’t just the defense, though that’s the most evident area of improvement. Kuminga is figuring out how to predict the flows out there and it’s the sort of Neo from the Matrix sight improvement that is so often what decides if players with elite athleticism will be able to stick in the league or not. Like breathing in oxygen and out carbon dioxide, there becomes a natural cycles of the league’s very best players knowing how to impact the game in some ways that are organic and unforced.
Here’s some more of Draymond on this stuff, via The Athletic:
“That was will,” Draymond Green said. “That was ‘I want the ball more than you.’ That was ‘Our backs are against the wall. We’ve lost the lead. Let me go make a play myself.’ So he took the ball. He goes and gets a dunk. He goes and snatches a rebound in traffic. He made every play down the stretch. I think it all started with that play with PJ Washington taking the ball. He manhandled him.”
The Warriors are treading water without Wiggins and Curry. Wiggins hasn’t played since December 3rd. Curry not since the 14th. The former is back from his protracted injury, but is now dealing with an unrelated non-Covid sickness that has him out indefinitely, but certainly short term. The latter, Curry, is a much longer timeline, even under the best case scenario, this team will have to survive for another couple of weeks without him.
So yes, these are all important games. Made winnable by some timely improvement from a second timeline that has advanced about as smoothly as sandpaper. Between all the injuries and weird Covid years, it’s no wonder that the timing was hard to predict.
Second timeline is indeed rising!