Golden State's deep roster cools off the Heat despite Curry's off shooting night
Joe Lacob's plan is emerging before our very eyes.
Close your eyes (and somehow keep reading this). Imagine a world where a sweaty Stephen Curry, many years into his playing career, is standing out of bounds surrounded by a fanatically adoring but bemused Chase Center crowd.
Curry has just failed to convert an easy And-1 opportunity by blowing a wiiide open layup, an athletic sequence he used to execute in his sleep during his younger days. As the whistle blows and the players congregate around the free throw line, Curry stares in disbelief. The crowd sighs but then sympathetically begins a loud cheer when they see Curry’s grizzled mug on the jumbotron scowling in embarrassed confusion like aliens have stolen his powers.
Jo @JoLACH29@BallsackSports This dude always get a pass. Imagine if Bron team wins a game with his scoring just 9 points with that low efficiency.
He strides over to the free throw line, his grimace turning into a chagrined smirk. He has been struggling mightily from the field all night, his three ball errantly clanging off the unforgiving rim. He’s in foul trouble, getting caught for ticky tack reaches. And yet the crowd swells into a hearty MVP chant, showing their gratitude and undying belief in their guy Steph despite Father Time (and constant double teams) maybe wearing away at him.
He makes both free throws. The Warriors go up eight in the fourth quarter. NOW OPEN YOUR EYES.
What you’re looking at is something Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob and his team of brainiacs have been preparing for: the days when the Splash Bros aren’t dominating but the team still is. And that scene isn’t in 2027 when Steph has a gray beard and bad knees because the front office “wasted his prime”. It happened last night in Golden State’s 115-108 victory over the Miami Heat.
Curry’s smile juxtaposed with a quiet scoring night conjured up memories of his Splash Bro Klay Thompson cheesing during the NBA Finals with 5 points:
Curry finished the night with 9 points on 3-of-17 shooting. Thompson didn’t play at all as he nears his return. And yet the Warriors took control of the game thanks to a depth chart that has a beautiful combination of young hungry stars in the making and wizened vets who never get rattled. Can we clap it up for Lacob, his GM Bob Myers, and his Coach Steve Kerr?
Credit where credit is due
“First of all, this is the only path,” Lacob said. “There is no other path. I don’t really understand what people are talking about. We have the highest payroll in the history of the NBA by a longshot. So we are all-in. But I believe, we believe — our coaching staff and our basketball operations staff — the great teams have a combination of types of talent. You want to be able to play different ways. You want to have young players that are developing and you want to have the great ones that are already there.”
- Warriors owner Joe Lacob to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.
Lacob’s words came in stark contrast to the trade machine imaginations of Dub Nation and the frustration many had with the front office during the two years of the last seven years wherein the team didn’t make the NBA Finals.
But Lacob’s vision is becoming apparent to the nonbelievers thanks to Myers assembling a roster of high-IQ vets who can run Coach Kerr’s system, with the youth and athleticism to be physically dominant as well.
There were a few examples of that in the win last night. I’m not going to get too hyped up about this win considering the Heat weren’t at full strength either, especially after star wing Jimmy Butler went out with a badly turned ankle in the third quarter.
But even without pivotal pieces like All-Star center and defensive menace Bam Adebayo and modern day enforcer Markieff Morris, the Heat still had some quality defenders on the floor. Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, and Butler before the injury have all punched recent tickets to the NBA Finals with elite defense; those three together on paper makes for a feisty, veteran defensive unit even without Adebayo’s presence.
That’s why it was fascinating to see how the Warriors handled them on a night where Steph couldn’t buy a shot. One thing I noticed: these Dubs are VERY comfortable in the offense.
Take Jordan Poole, who was moved to the bench in anticipation of Klay’s return despite being third on the team in scoring. He had 32 points in 26 minutes on 12-of-17 shooting (5-of-9 from deep) with 5 assists and only one turnover! Check how patiently he finds open spots, navigates around screens, and generally dictates what the defensive response is going to be.
Kudos to the Warriors and to Poole’s work ethic that he has matured into this killer after that historically rough rookie season.
Remember after Game 7 of the 2016 Finals when there was a small narrative that Green was Golden State’s real MVP? Games like he had last night are why, despite what the traditional box score perspective may tell us. 5 points on 5 shots isn’t mind-blowing, but 13 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and only 2 turnovers is ridiculous.
His defensive presence anchored the Dubs against the Heat’s attack, as he continuously roved around putting out fires.
Draymond is like Steve Young on offense with his reads and passes and he’s also like Ken Norton Jr. on defense with his physicality and intimidation. He’s going to affect the game in every phase and the Warriors are blessed to have him.
22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals in 34 minutes for Maple Jordan. He was battling old teammate Jimmy Butler to a standstill, which is kind of insane if you remember their trajectories from their Timberwolves days.
Joe Shasky @ButcherBoy415Wiggins career rejuvenation is unbelievable. Widely considered a lost cause & he’s playing elite on both ends every night. Where would THIS warriors team be without Wiggins? He’s been SPECTACULAR
Gary Payton II
The son of Oakland’s Hall-of-Famer is a bonafide problem. Here are his last five games including last night’s victory, per ESPN:
ALL FIVE OF THOSE TEAMS ARE PLAYOFF TEAMS. GP2 IS LEGIT.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
I could probably name every player on the roster from last night’s win to give you an idea of how deep of a team the Warriors’ front office has created, but I’m reaching Substack’s post size limit.
Kevon Looney was solid as rock, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica are cementing that they are more than B-grade offseason acquisitions. This team is fast, versatile, physical, plays crazy defense and can shoot the heck outta the ball.
So when Curry has an off night, Dub Nation can rest easy knowing he has the pieces around him to make sure Golden State is still deadly. Btw, Curry also had 10 assists.
Last night’s win is another reason for the NBA to initiate hurricane warning protocols. The Splash 3.0 is quickly approaching, driven by dark clouds and winds that roar like barreling trains.