As Klay Thompson alluded to in the off-season, there is, indeed, only one basketball, and on Sunday night in Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors did exactly as the sharpshooter said they would: they put that ball in the hoop. Behind 89 scintillating points from Thompson, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the home team was able to hold off the young and feisty Phoenix Suns in a game that saw very little defense but a deluge of splash downs.
Here are 10 thoughts on the game:
1) The Warriors are the rare team that can defeat most competition without playing particularly well. Despite committing ghastly unforced turnovers for an entire half, not playing defense for the first three-and-a-half quarters, and giving up 120 points to a team that’s currently sporting a 3-8 record, the Dubs managed to win going away by double-digits. Who needs to make sound passes and communicate on transition defense when you can drop 16 threes, shoot 51.7% from the field and score 133 points. Though the Suns fought valiantly all game — even taking a 104-103 fourth-quarter lead — they just ran out of talent against these Warriors. What other team in the league can trot out a lineup with at least two All-NBA players on the court at all times?
2) This is why it’s not worth panicking about the Warriors’ defense: When it matters (ie. the playoffs), they’ll dig in, get a stop and find an open shot in transition. With 6:15 remaining in the contest, KD checked into the game to form a variant of the Death Lineup of he, Steph, Klay, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston. The Warriors went on a 27-10 run to close out the Suns.
3) Welcome back, Klay Thompson! After a frigid start to the season from three-point land (11-53), Klay has now upped his percentage to nearly 32% by going 12-of-19 in the last three contests.
4) And more importantly, he’s hesitating less and firing on the catch. Gone is the reluctant shooter from the first seven games, and in his place is the guy we’ve come to know and love, the guy who shoots with the ball barely in his hands.
5) Some NBA fans might not appreciate that the 73-win Warriors were able to add Durant, but there’s no way anyone could dislike what they see on the court. Just about once a game the Dubs have one of those sequences where they turn basketball into high performance art. Like KD getting an out-of-nowhere block on Devin Booker, which leads to Steph flying down the court for a 30-foot three-point make as Oracle erupts in cheers.
6) Judging by the frequency of clunky shots in transition and the number of times he’s getting beat on defense, Andre Igoudala is either in a different phase of his career physically, or he’s cognizantly saving his body for the long grind.
7) Patrick McCaw’s defense continues to impress. His arms are always outstretched, ready to thwart passing lanes and swipe at careless ball handlers, and when he gets beat off the dribble (all players get beat in the NBA) he’s quick and long enough to contest a shot from behind. Compare McCaw’s sound defense against Suns rookie Marquese Chriss getting lost on screens and you begin to see why Kerr trusts the UNLV product. If McCaw can shoot like he did tonight (2-3 from distance), he’s going to be a huge asset going forward given the Warriors lack of wing depth.
9) Leandro Barabosa had an 11-point, 4-assist, plus-5 Mini Revenge Game in his first time back in Oracle.
10) I don’t want to overreact when the season is only 10 games old, but man, it certainly seems like the Warriors are treading water to start each game with Zaza at center. The guy doesn’t body up well against opposing rebounders, is repeatedly killed in the pick-and-roll, and the next block he gets will be his first in five games. The Dubs are going to need him to play 20 minutes a game this season (like a Number 4 pitcher that eats up innings), so here’s hoping that Zaza starts to play better (and stop taking long jumpers when Steph, Klay, and KD are on the court).