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The Warriors just crushed their old rivals using the next generation of GSW hoops
Juan Toscano-Anderson, Jordan Poole, and Andrew Wiggins are establishing themselves as potential keys to Golden State's bright future.
The Golden State Warriors successfully navigated a road back-to-back from Oklahoma City to Cleveland, finishing strong with a 119-101 victory over the Cavaliers.
It must have been nostalgic for Stephen Curry and Draymond Green to levy more punishment on these two teams they have so much history with. Curry and Green’s future Hall-of-Fame resumes were tested and cemented through fiery postseason wars against those franchises. They are also part of the reason that both teams have been buried into irrelevancy.
Trip down memory lane
As much as Warriors fans may bemoan their franchise’s injury-riddled fall from “NBA dynasty” to “desperate playoff hopeful”, they can take solace in the hope that they are a healthy Klay Thompson away from title contention. Meanwhile the Thunder and Cavaliers are depleted shells of the formidable postseason contenders the Dubs had to overcome to become icons.
The chasing of championships cost all three franchises dearly; even the Warriors weren’t immune from the heavy toll of perpetual contendership. But at least the Dubs have three rings to show for their crippling battle wounds.
The Thunder couldn’t maintain their contender status after losing in the 2012 Finals and eventually blowing a 3-1 lead to Golden State in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The LeBron James Cavs were at least able to steal one championship during the Splash Bros-era, but ultimately were broken by the Warriors eliminating them three other times. Once James fled the burnt out ashes of Cleveland to L.A., “The Land” cratered to the bottom of the East where they reside now.
(Is this next clip of Kevin Love playfully hugging Curry and Green friendly competitive respect… or Stockholm Syndrome? lolol jk)
There’s no doubt the Warriors were the roadblock that kept these teams from fulfilling their deepest hopes and dreams, unless you’re King James and believe that beating the Warriors one time in four attempts makes you the greatest player of all time.
Both OKC and Cleveland are banking on their recent and future draft picks eventually working them back into respectability. Especially OKC. The Thunder are FEVERISHLY hoarding picks in a youth movement they were forced into after trading James Harden, losing Kevin Durant to Golden State, and Russell Westbrook forcing out via trade.
Not to be left out of the scouting fun, the Dubs have similar hopes of adding starpower via the draft: their 2020 #2 pick James Wiseman showed great promise before being derailed by a knee injury. Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall have exhibited flashes of potential as they figure out their roles. And of course there’s the two potential first round picks coming this offseason if their record and the Minnesota Timberwolves cooperate.
The biggest difference between the Warriors and their two rivals fallen from grace is that the Dubs still have their stars. Although the Warriors lost their only Finals MVP’s in KD and Iguodala, they still boast three All-Stars from their first title run. Klay Thompson’s injury issues notwithstanding, Curry and Green are proving on a nightly basis that they can still open a good ol’ can of whup-ass on anybody.
Curry and Green show new Dubs how to smack Cleveland
Last night the Dubs’ Big 2 opened up that volatile can in Cleveland, a place they’ve spilled their fair share of championship champagne. Curry ripped off 33 points on 12-of-25 shooting, while Green grabbed 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. They also combined for 10 of the Dubs turnovers LOL.
It was thoroughly satisfying to watch Curry banish his old antagonist Matthew Dellavedova into the Shadow Dimension with his handles.
But much like a tiger teaching it’s cubs how to hunt, Curry and Green’s dominance showed the newer Warriors the proper bloodlust for destroying anything in a Cavaliers jersey. THIS IS THE WAY.
Jordan Poole had 14 points, 4 assists, and an eye-opening 3 steals off the bench. Damion Lee scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and snagged 5 rebounds. And then there was… “OUR GUY JUAN” (copyright pending to Eric Apricot).
So when I called Juan Toscano-Anderson “Iguodalish” a while back, I didn’t know he was actually going to start following Iguodala the Legend’s footsteps in becoming the new glue guy off the bench. JTA’s mind is always on the perfect pass to keep Coach Steve Kerr’s motion offense humming.
But what I didn’t expect was a scoring outburst from the Golden State reserve. The Oakland native poured in 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting (3-of-4 from downtown), with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He was a +21 plus/minus in 31 minutes of play, filling in beautiful when teammate Kent Bazemore had early foul trouble. I think this is the type of guy the Dubs were hoping to get when they cycled through Alfonzo McKinnie, Jonas Jerebko, and Jacob Evans.
Oh and I haven’t even mentioned his defense, and anytime Iguodala’s name is brought up that’s a key component. JTA had a steal and a block, picked up ball carriers full court at times, switched with his teammates fluidly, and even stonewalled Kevin Love on the block.
Hahaha are you kidding me? JTA is out there locking up Olympians?! #TOWNBIZ
Put some respect on Andrew Wiggins’ name
Back to Cavs big man Love for a second. He started off his career putting up big numbers for a Minnesota Timberwolves team that was losing hella games. When King James returned back to Cleveland for his second stint, the Cavs traded their 2014 #1 pick to rescue Love from the hellscape of Minnesota basketball and pair him with James and Kyrie Irving. Love went on to play a major supporting role and win a title before the franchise was obliterated by Golden State.
But whatever happened to that abandoned #1 pick? He was young Canadian boy named Andrew Wiggins; forced to learn the harsh realities of the NBA game on an aimless franchise that never did much despite employing the services of guys like Love, Kevin Garnett, Zach Lavine, Jimmy Butler, or Karl-Anthony Towns.
Wiggins fought for scraps in that barren wasteland, mocked relentlessly for his max contract and missing the high promise of his draft position. Silently he toiled, working on his game, going berserk on those damned Cavaliers every chance he got, hoping one day for freedom.
When the Warriors liberated him on February 6, 2020 and added him to a squad of established stars, Wiggins could finally settle into a comfortable role. No longer would he be asked to lift a beleaguered franchise out of the grave. Now, he could just get buckets and lock up the opponent’s best players in peace.
Last night, Cleveland witnessed the return of the reborn Wiggins, and he showed them no mercy. 23 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. He shot 9-of-16 from the field (5-of-8 from beyond the arc). He could only watch in pity as Love scuffled to 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting, a fading star on a team with no more glory days to celebrate.
Let Wiggins’ tale be a reminder: when we critique players, we always have to keep in mind where they are playing and hold their franchises just as accountable. Location, location, LOCATION.
As much as Curry, Green, and Coach Kerr get credit for keeping this l̶o̶s̶t̶ transitional season alive, Wiggins deserves major credit. He’s averaging 18.1 PPG, shooting 47% from the field, and 38.7% from beyond the arc. Per NBA.com, he’s also an elite isolation scorer. His points per iso possession are up there with DeMar Derozan and Kyrie Irving:
Dammit, I should have written an article where I demand Coach Kerr turns the offense into all Wiggins isos SINCE IT’S CLEARLY UNSTOPPABLE (kidding).
And of course he’s cemented himself as a shackling defender this season, routinely asked to activate the clamps on whichever star wing the Warriors face. But don’t take my word for it, ask his coach:
His on-ball defense has been really good," Kerr said. "He's shooting the ball very efficiently. All in all, he's having an excellent year. He's getting more and more comfortable playing alongside Steph and Draymond.
As we go forward, it's just great that he's not only playing well, but feeling good about his surroundings, his teammates, the style of play [and] everything else.
The Dubs are now back at .500 (28-28) and are getting back into the driver’s seat of their playoff hopes. 16 games remain, with the dangerous Boston Celtics welcoming GSW to SleepyFreud’s birth town tomorrow night.
It’s go time. Fans coming back soon. Let’s mob.