Reactions: Warriors 106, Cavaliers 96
|David Lee, PF 38 MIN | 10-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 14 REB | 6 AST | 22 PTS | +7
Lee played his best game of the season. Easily. He took good shots – including several easy mid-range jumpers – moved the ball effectively, and cleaned the glass with aplomb. Of particular note were four athletic finishes with his off-hand in the paint. But defensively, my goodness, is this guy bad. Refusing to rotate/help, losing his man and the ball, trying to take a charge on a lefty going right, tonight’s game was a showcase of his defensive deficiencies. But if Lee can play like this on the other end Golden State will take it; Andrew Bogut was acquired with these very problems in mind.
|Harrison Barnes, SF 30 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -6
It was a tale of two halves for Barnes, with the rookie playing a key fourth quarter role in keeping the Cavaliers at bay. After struggling to find any success on offense, the Warriors found a mismatch with Barnes in the post and exploited it time and time again. He bullied Boobie Gibson for an and-1 first, then abused the bigger CJ Miles with quick and decisive moves to the rim. And earlier in the half he showed more comfort and confidence putting the ball on the floor for drives than we’ve grown accustomed to. There were warts here for sure, but this was Barnes’ best performance of the season.
|Andrew Bogut, C 17 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 PTS | +3
This game was a perfect microcosm of the impact a player like Bogut can have without scoring. He had three assists in the game’s first eight minutes, including a nifty no-look dump off to Curry for an easy layup. Most impressive, though, was this third quarter sequence: assist, drawn charge, assist, block at the rim. He’s still getting his feet wet scoring on the block, but Bogut’s early returns remain encouraging.
|Stephen Curry, SG 36 MIN | 8-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | +7
Curry’s season continues to confound, with the noted sharpshooter playing like it one game and not the next. Luckily for Golden State he was on from the beginning tonight, hitting several early three-pointers and pulling up for easy jumpers off the dribble. He had 15 points in the first quarter and was quiet from then on, but remained effective for Golden State nevertheless. Where he underperformed was the other end of the floor, routinely leaving Kyrie Irving open to give meaningless help to his teammates. Know who you’re guarding and who his teammates are, Steph.
|Klay Thompson, SG 22 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Like Curry, Thompson got off to a hot start to set the tone for the Warriors early. He had nine points in the game’s first several minutes and seemed poised for a big night, but shortly after picked up three dumb fouls and was relegated to the bench. He picked it back up in the third quarter, though, showing a versatile floor game we hope to see more of. On three of four early possessions, Thompson put the ball on the deck and got to the rim for a bucket or foul. More of this, please.
|Carl Landry, PF 26 MIN | 8-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +3
Landry scored easier than he has all season tonight, and given his early success with Golden State that’s saying something. He had it all working against Cleveland – catch and shoot jumpers, step back jumpers, righty hooks in the post off spins, and putbacks off offensive boards. Landry helped man the glass, too, and continued to impress defensively. Maybe the team’s best individual effort of the night.
|Jarrett Jack, PG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 10 PTS | +11
The game got close in the third quarter – Cleveland briefly took a lead, in fact – and Jack came to the rescue. He entered the game with the Warriors down two, and by the end of the quarter had orchestrated a 15-2 run to give GS an eleven point lead going into the fourth. He hit a jumper, drove to the basket for an and-1, and continued finding easy baskets for his teammates. Jack’s performance won’t be talked about, but was as influential as any other to the Warriors win.
Two Things We Saw
- With Thompson in foul trouble and Jack reeling from the flu, Draymond Green got some early minutes at small forward. Playing in an odd perimeter trio with Curry and Richard Jefferson, Green failed to establish himself on either end of the floor. He missed a couple open jumpers, forced the issue another time, and was beat off the dribble by a Cleveland wing on a few others. There was a thought going into the draft that Green was best suited as a change-of-pace power forward off the bench; this performance only went to confirming that assertion. Unfortunately for he and the Warriors, though, Mark Jackson seems intent on proving otherwise.
- A thought I had in the first half: in a matchup featuring so many talented youngsters, Barnes was the least impressive of the bunch. Given the presence of much-maligned Cavaliers sophomore Tristan Thompson, that’s hardly a good indicator of his play. He picked it up significantly in the game’s second stanza, of course, but the potential – and current gains – shown by the likes of Kyrie Irving, both Thompsons, and Dion Waiters early paled in comparison to what we’ve ever seen from Barnes this season. Here’s hoping he uses tonight’s last 24 minutes as a springboard to bigger and better things.