1) The Warriors are the Transformers of the NBA. On a night when the threes weren’t dropping (7-23 from deep), they had to look for other ways to score. They managed to leverage the threat of their shot-making for 50 points in the paint and got 22 more points from the foul line, both numbers above season average. Miami had a good game plan trying to slow the pace of play and force Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson off the three-point line, but these Warriors aren’t a one trick jump-shooting pony, they can morph into whatever kind of team is needed to beat an opponent.2) With Hassan Whiteside out with injury, the Heat went small-ball and looked to exploit the Chris Bosh-Andrew Bogut matchup. After Bosh hit a jumper for the game’s first points with Bogut still planted deep in the paint, I was thinking that this was probably going to be a short night for the Aussie big man. But then Luke Walton adjusted in the third quarter and had Bogut “guard” Justise Winslow, like he did Tony Allen in the playoffs last year. The Warriors immediately went on a run to increase the lead.
3) I love games where Draymond realizes he has to do a little bit more for the Warriors to win. Seeing that the team wasn’t hitting from deep, Dray was more aggressive getting his shots, especially in the third quarter where he had seven points, with two coming on a one man fast break. He finished the night with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists.
4) Draymond has career highs in points, rebounds, blocks, assists, FG percentage, three-point percentage and minutes played. As a rookie against the Heat he shot 22% from threes. This year he’s up to 42%. That’s probably why Chris Bosh bit on his pump fake that led to an emphatic dunk.
5) Steph didn’t have a great shooting night (11-27 FG, 4-11 on threes), but managed to accumulate 31 points and 6 assists. And right when the Heat were hoping for a mini-miracle comeback, he hit a three to end all suspense.
6) One of the strangest box scores you’ll ever see from the Warriors. All the starters were minuses in plus-minus while the subs were pluses. I guess this was one of the rare games where the starting unit had to struggle to hold onto a lead while the subs were on the bench.
7) Whiteside had some interesting Twitter remarks over the summer. “Small ball only works on centers that can’t score #factsonly.” He has a career scoring average of 10.0 points. #factsonly.
8) Goran Dragic’s scoring averages and 3-point percentage the last 5 seasons: 11.7/34%, 14.7/32%, 20.3/41%, 16.3/35%, 12.3/32%. I enjoy Dragic’s play, especially those unorthodox drives to the basket, but does it look there’s an outlier there or does Dragic still need more time to learn how to play with Wade in order to revert to his All-NBA Third Team form? The Heat is all in with the 29-year-old, having given up two first round draft picks and $90 million for his services. I’m not giving up on a rebirth of the Dragon, but the clock is ticking.
9) Marreese Speights continued his fine play in 2016. In a span of about 2 minutes, Mo Buckets got 6 points to extend the Warriors lead while Curry and Green sat, always the most vulnerable minutes for the Dubs.
10) The Warriors were 14-6 and on a 4-game road winning streak before they played the Heat in December of 2012. They were young, talented and had a nascent star in Curry. By any measure, they were a franchise on the rise, but after all the years of losing, I was conditioned to temper my fandom, always anticipating the other shoe to drop (lest we forget, the year Webber was traded the team started out 5-0 before going 21-56 the rest of the way). A player could demand a trade, a star could fall off a moped, or maybe the face of the franchise would attack a coach, anything was possible in my mind with the Warriors. But that victory over the Heat, against LeBron and Wade at the peak of their powers, was when I finally began to allow myself to believe that the Warriors were on a sustainable path of victories. It’s been three years and a championship since that game. I think I’ve finally stopped worrying about that other shoe.