Facing the team that ended their record 24-game win streak last season, the Golden State Warriors managed this time to escape the Bradley Center with a narrow 124-121 victory on Saturday night. Due in large part to Kevin Durant’s game-high 33 points and Klay Thompson’s scalding hot 18-point third quarter performance, the Warriors were able to hold off a feisty Bucks squad in a wildly entertaining game.
With the victory, Golden State moved to 11-2 on the season, good for the second-best record in the NBA. The Dubs look to close out the four-game road trip with a perfect record in Indiana on Monday.
Here are 10 thoughts on the game:
- On a night when the Warriors could do little to stop the Bucks’ offensive onslaught, of course the game would be decided by two defensive possessions. With the Dubs desperately clinging to a two-point lead and with under 40 seconds to play, Thompson did just enough to get his body in the way of a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo to force a miss. On the very next possession, Draymond Green made a game-saving deflection on an inbounds pass to secure the victory. Credit the Warriors — who allowed the Bucks to shoot nearly 52% and tie an opponent-high for points — for coming up with the crucial defensive stops when needed.
- Of course it helps to be a little lucky. Antetokounmpo missed a dunk in transition that could’ve tied the game and Mirza Teletovic missed a wide open three-pointer that could’ve given the Bucks a lead in the final minutes.
- One big takeaway from the first 13 games: The Warriors can win most games even if one of their Big Three scorers suffers an off night. The Bucks pestered Stephen Curry most of the game with a second defender, helping to force the two time MVP into a frigid 7-of-21 shooting performance. But that gave an opportunity for KD to show off his offensive repertoire (25 first-half points) and then Klay (29 points on 17 attempts) got hot in the third. That’s the luxury of having three prolific scorers: even if one guy is struggling, the other two are more than equipped to carry the load.
- This is basically what the Bucks tall, lanky interior defense looks like.
- It’s hard to believe the Bucks are only 5-7 with Jabari Parker and Antetokounmpo (58 combined points) leading the scoring and that thicket of limbs crowding the defense. Imagine if Kris Middleton were healthy and if they had a point guard like George Hill, another lengthy, plus-defender that could space the floor with shooting. Yikes!
- Draymond has been playing at a DPOY level thus far in the season. While the rest of the Warriors are working on their defensive timing and communication, Dray’s been the one consistent player on that end. Whether it’s ripping the ball out of dudes’ hands or throwing the rock off a fallen guy’s chest, last year’s runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year is making another strong case for the award.
- I’ve been enjoying the way Steve Kerr has been using Javale McGee in the last few games. Throw him out there with the starters for a few minutes and if he’s scaring dudes in the paint and catching lobs off the roll, keep him in. If he’s fouling three times in 90 seconds and picking off passes meant for teammates (like he did in a comical four-minute run in Toronto), take him out. Against the Bucks, Good Javale showed up and changed the tenor of the game. With Milwaukee piercing the Warriors’ interior D with little resistance, Kerr inserted McGee at the 6:50 mark of the third quarter and the team immediately reeled off a 15-6 run. In one fun 20-second sequence, Javale caught a lob for a two-handed throw-down and blocked a Malcom Brogdon layup that set up a wide open Thompson three-pointer. McGee was a plus-4 in five minutes.
- On the couple of possessions where KD got switched onto Antetokounmpo, it really felt like we were watching one of those Japanese anime where mecha robots battle one another to save humanity. Like, those two guys are obviously superior beings sent from the future to play basketball. How else can you explain two seven-footers that are that mobile, skilled and athletic?
- Remember when the Bucks were “winners” in the 2015 off-season because they managed to sign Greg Monroe away from the Knicks? Monroe has played nine minutes total in the last three games. Things change fast in the NBA.
- 2016 has been a decidedly freaky year. The Cubs won the World Series. Donald freakin’ Trump is going to be our President. And the always entertaining Red Panda dropped a few bowls during half time.