This contest played out like a game of NBA 2k11. Buoyed by a return to Oracle after the brutal Texas Triangle road trip, the Warriors wasted no time tearing into their unsuspecting opponents. The Raptors might have thought they had an opportunity to get an easy win over a slumping team, but Golden State quickly dispelled any chance of that happening.
To say the Warriors were off to a hot start would be a massive understatement. In the first quarter alone the W’s scored on 12 straight possessions, racked up 45 points and shot 81% from the field. If that’s not ridiculous enough four of the five starters reached double digits only two minutes into the second quarter.
I became so mesmerized with their scoring that I hardly even noticed the 20-point lead they had built. Then 30. Then 40. After David Lee drained the first three of his career, it became borderline disrespectful. And I kind of liked it. The Warriors need this Kobe-like intensity to absolutely, and completely dominate, demoralize, and even humiliate the opponent. It’s this kind of focus and drive that will help them maintain leads and close deficits, something that has plagued the W’s all year.
Yes, the Raptors have the league’s worst defense, but that doesn’t mean they have to let the Warriors cruise to a 26-point lead with 84 points by half, an NBA-high this season. More than anything, the Warriors showed a willingness to get to the rim. It helps to have the shot going, 7-9 from deep, but with only a quarter of their points coming from three it really speaks to how aggressive they were tonight. They also had 18 attempts from the line in the first two quarters which is a rare, but welcomed sight.
With Bayless starting the third in place of the injured Calderon, the Raptors hoped to slow down Curry who had already garnered 19 points. It made no difference as the Warriors pushed the lead to 42 and effectively out of reach even for the Warriors. 138 points marked a new season-high for the Warriors after going for 132 on opening night.
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1st Star: Monta Ellis
The Warriors can never make it easy choosing the three stars for the night. While all the starters played superbly, Ellis helped set the tone early by slithering his way to the hoop through Toronto’s porous D and setting up teammates. 27 points, 10 assists, four steals, with a lone turnover. Surprisingly, his point total was the game high, but if you watched how the game progressed, it truly was a team effort.
2nd Star: Dorell Wright
Dorell had another ridiculously efficient night with 26 points on 11 shots to go along with 4 steals to only one turnover. He was running out on the breaks and finishing through contact, something he and Monta should be looking to do more. He also drew another foul on a three-point attempt which was become quite common for him recently. Nice to see him stringing together some solid outings.
3rd Star: David Lee
Curry deserves to be up here just as much as the rest of them, but alas there are only three spots and Lee earns it after making his first career three. He was the last of the four to eclipse 20 points, but he was hustling on breaks and earning his easy looks. 21 points on only nine attempts. His three also raised his career 3PT shooting to an astounding 6.7%. <a href=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_f4Fo_GlfJs8/SvGtfzhGSRI/AAAAAAAAC8Q/Ltamr7a_vz8/s400/brad+miller+celebrating.jpg”>Brad Miller approves.</a>
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FT shooting: 26 makes on 32 attempts from the stripe. Save for the centers, the starters all shoot around 80% or better which is a significant difference from previous teams. From J-Rich to B. Diddy, the Warriors haven’t had great FT shooting. Draw fouls and make free throws. It’s more of a mentality than a game plan, really. With the current group, they could easily push 80% and lead the league in attempts if they made it a focus heading into next season.
Effort & execution: Despite the lopsided affair the game never deteriorated into a playground feel. The Warriors ran their sets, pushed the ball in transition, and fought hard for rebounds. And despite the ridiculous point total and field goal percentage, the Warriors earned a ton tough finishes through and around traffic.
Allocating minutes: Smart had some interesting choices distributing playing time tonight. Four of the five starters, Udoh excluded, played the entire first quarter with Ellis and Curry (20 seconds short) playing the entire first half. With three minutes left in third and the deficit pushing the 40s, the starters still stayed. I suppose it was a sort of reward for playing so well and with the playoffs essentially out of reach, there was no need to rest. Still, this is a team of the future, and garbage time is meaningless to the starters. Their play was never lackluster, but with about six minutes left Ellis finally headed to the bench for the first time. I understand Acie was hurt, but it was strange nonetheless.
Ekpe Udoh: The nightmare lived up to his name tonight by scaring the Raptors into submission. After getting yet another two-block possession, the Raptors became increasingly hesitant around the paint. On one occasion, James Johnson, a second-degree black belt and certified ninja, pump faked twice and handed the ball off to Derozan who found himself doing the same before kicking it out to Bayless. His hook looked great tonight and if he continues developing it, the Warriors will finally have a post presence again.
Raptor sadness: Toronto rookie, Ed Davis, said after the game, “It’s probably one of the toughest games mentally I’ve had to go through in my career. It’s tough. You never want to go through that again.” Also in regards to Julian Wright, Jay Triano noted, “We were six deep already at the wing spot. I asked him to go in, he didn’t go in. That’s fine. I just went back with Leandro.” Not cool, Julian. Not cool.
Smiles: On a positive note, the Warriors racked up a season-high 15 smiles. In all seriousness, it was great to see the team enjoying themselves for once. Hopefully this feeling will push them to outwork the rest of the league during the off-season.
The More You Know: Couple of noteworthy stats to mention tonight, although I’m sure to miss several. The Warriors had the highest scoring first half in the NBA this season with 84 points. They shot 81% in 1st and 68% by half while making 77% from long range. Despite the frantic pace, they only turned the ball over twice in first half. Also, after averaging 25 points combined over the last four games, Curry and Ellis broke out with 50 tonight.
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John Wall and the Wizards are visiting Oracle Sunday for what promises to be another high-scoring affair. Like the Raptors, Washington is capable offensively, but not so capable defensively. Should the Warriors absolutely dominate them here at home? Yes. Will they? My fortune cookie says, “Your family is young, gifted, and attractive.” Um, sure. 115-102 W’s.