Gamethread: Curry and Green again proving to be a strong organizational backbone
Big playoff implications as Warriors take on Dallas with both teams playing well
The Golden State Warriors finally have fans back in their home arena, and are looking about as fearsome as it’s possible for a 10th seed to look. With the flamboyantly dissimilar games of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, the Warriors have begun to string together wins, even as the roster has been whittled down by injuries and health and safety protocol quarantines.
Tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks has a lot riding on it. As the season comes to a close , these final 11 games are all going to matter - but none likely as much as this evening’s tussle with the 6th seeded Mavericks. They’re coming in shorthanded, just like the Warriors, but are also entering San Francisco on the second half of a back-to-back after last night’s showdown in Sacramento.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (31-30) vs Dallas Mavericks (33-27)
WHEN: Tuesday, April 26th, 2021 // 6:30(?)pm PST
WATCH: TNT; NBCSBA
Narrow the focus: the focal point of Curry and Green
“The fact that we’re still trying to evolve and elevate our game, and find ways to keep this thing going, it speaks to again, the mutual respect, the chemistry, the ability to not be complacent and feed off each other.
There’s a huge confidence boost when I’m out there with him. I know for him, vice versa. That’s not something that happens overnight and that’s not something that breaks down overnight either.”
-Draymond Green, on the evolving excellence
There was a whole lot going on this season in Golden State. With one foot in the present, and one stepping towards the future, the Warriors were often caught flat-footed when these two competing priorities were at odds. And amidst all that, the Warriors were trying to reinvent a team that needed to work right now.
While rookie James Wiseman probably had the most scrutiny directed at his struggle, he was far from alone. Marquese Chriss looked good until a fractured leg ended his season. Brad Wanamaker’s elite defense kept him on the court, even as his shot never made the trip from Boston. Kelly Oubre opened the season with a historically bad start, and then dealt with injuries just as he was figuring the offense out. Plus, stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have both missed time - a crippling blow to a team lacking top-end depth.
A big part of the recent upward trajectory in Golden State is that all of this is in the rearview mirror now. All they’re trying to do is make the playoffs, and get the highest seed possible now.
Curry is the sharp point of the spear, and the Warriors big recent push is due in large part to the fact that Curry averaged around 38 points per game and hit around 47 percent from deep during the month of April. Say what you will about this weird season, but the one sure thing that comforts the hearts and minds of Dub Nation should be that Curry is turning in one of the best seasons of his career.
Connor Letourneau wrote about the wacky reality of Curry, at the ripe old (basketball) age of 33, possibly even being better than the young kid that took the league by storm half a decade ago.
Now at an age when many players contemplate retirement, Curry is averaging more points (31.3), more rebounds (5.6) and fewer fouls (1.8) than he did as a 28-year-old in 2015-16. Most of his other numbers — the 48.9% clip from the field, the 42.7% clip from 3-point range, the 5.8 assists, the 1.2 steals — aren’t far off from what he posted five years ago.
Letourneau goes on to remind the reader that Curry’s two highest-scoring games of his career have come this year - and he just set a record for most threes made in a single month… with two more games still remaining.
In those intervening years between Curry’s first MVP award and now, he developed a solidity to his game that didn’t exist before. Bigger, stronger, and wiser, this is a fully fleshed out Curry that thrives equally well on the outside (where Letourneau points out that a career-high 17% of his 3-pointers are step-back shots, and he’s hitting 55% of them), or inside - where he is also averaging a career-high for drive attempts:
A career-high 26 percent of Curry’s total shots are driving layups or floaters, according to Second Spectrum. He’s hitting 59 percent of those shots, which ranks 10th in the league of the 113 players to log at least 100 attempts.
So, Curry is playing better than ever on the perimeter? And better than ever under the basket? Cool.
But this season has been equally great for Draymond Green. As Daniel Hardee pointed out yesterday, Green is third in the league in assists, outperforming even Chris Paul. Where Curry is the spear that stabs into the defense, Green is the Roman leather sandal that makes the army so damn tough to defeat.
And it’s certainly not all about the offense when it comes to Green:
As the edges have melted away, the core of this Warriors roster has been exposed. It looks strong. Regardless of how the season ends, fans should be comforted knowing exactly how much solidity is at the core of this franchise.
Late night Mavs update
They did it. Those crazy Sacramento Kings did it.
This isn't just about the Warriors and Mavericks now, the entire lower end of the Western Conference playoff bracket could be wide open if the hometown heroes can pull off a win tonight.