There are days when I wake up and go to work in a less-than-optimal physical and mental state. My job performance suffers, and I spend the bulk of the day clock-watching, hoping desperately that the boss won’t notice my torpor and fire me. That’s what the Golden State Warriors looked like on Monday night in Minnesota. Gone was the team known for its precision offense and well-tuned defense, and in its place was a group of guys going through the motions of basketball, hoping not to get caught with an L from a young and excitable Timberwolves team. Fortunately for Warriors fans, the team was able to eke out a narrow victory with “good enough” effort and got a boost from two “young player” mistakes by Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in the final minute of action. Golden State improved to 63-7 on the season with the 5-point, “let’s just get out of here and never talk about this game again” victory. 


Here are 10 thoughts on the game:

1) The Warriors know they don’t have to be at their best to beat a lottery-bound team like Minnesota. They can rely on their talent to keep the score close and then turn on the defensive tenacity in the final minutes and hope for the best: it’s been a successful strategy all year. In an 82-game season, no team plays at 100% intensity all the time. The Warriors certainly haven’t, and this game was a reminder of that. The Dubs were sloppy — especially in the second half where they turned the ball over 14 times — but they were able to tighten the defense screws down the stretch and hold the Wolves to only 15 fourth quarter points (after allowing 29 or more in the first three quarters) and they got just enough scoring from the rest of the roster to make up for another off night from Steph and Klay (36 points, 11-31 FG combined).

Draymond Green Karl Anthony Towns2) KAT and Wiggins are going to be really good for a really long time. You see glimpses every now and then, whether it’s KAT nimbly driving the lane, or Wiggins putting Draymond Green in the spin cycle with a devastating whirling move in the third quarter. But the dudes are young and that youthful inexperience reared its head in the final minute of the game. KAT set himself in a poor defensive position on an out-of-bounds play the Dubs always use under the basket (which allowed an open Draymond basket), and Wiggins, with the ball and a chance to tie the game, forced a turnaround jumper that had little chance of connecting. These guys aren’t quite there yet, but they will be. Soon.

3) Steph is 3-of-21 from distance in the last two games. His release looks the same, but the move to get the shot (the step back, the blow-by in the lane) all seem about a half-step slower than usual. With the Dubs having played seven games in 11 nights, a rest day may be coming.

4) Rubio, KAT, Lavine and Wiggins all scored 19 or more points and did it efficiently (save for Wiggins: 8-21 FG). Imagine what this team will look like with another lottery pick. And imagine that pick being Ben Simmons. Sure, the lack of shooting and spacing would be terrible, but think about all the highlights in transition!

Stephen Curry5) I’m positive I’ve never typed this before but Mo Speights was a monster defensively in the second half. Along with three blocks, Mo was great running out to jump shooters (forcing two misses while not biting on pump fakes) and he also thwarted a couple of drives to the basket by Wiggins and Smith. We know what Mo does to stretch the floor offensively (4-6 FG), so when has it going defensively…

6) …it makes it all the more perplexing that Steve Kerr continues to go with Anderson Varejao at backup center. AV can’t shoot like Mo and doesn’t provide the athletic rim runs and shot blocking that MacAdoo can. To be fair, Varejao is a better passer than either, but he was a minus-7 in 10 minutes … one game after finishing with a minus-12 versus the Spurs.

7) Ian Clark shuffling his feet before dribbling on the wing is the new Mickael Pietrus step-out-of-bounds violation. When it happens, I don’t even get frustrated anymore, I just accept that it’s the cost of having him on the team.

8) Is the ability to dribble a ball well like shooting free throws? Is it something that you either have or don’t have? Because sometimes I wonder how HB (and even Klay) can play basketball with one of the best ball handlers of all time in Steph and not get better in the off-season.

9) The Warriors weren’t the only ones to feel the effects of the grudge match in San Antonio. The Spurs dropped a game to the Hornets despite holding a 23-point advantage at one point. They’re now four games behind the Ws.

10) Eight of the Warriors’ next nine games are in Oakland, and save for one back-to-back set, the games come in a steady every-other-day pace. The Dubs could push for 73 wins during this stretch, but should they falter once or twice, 70 wins and resting a few players before the playoffs wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.