They still aren’t there yet. The Kevin Durant-less 2017 version of the Golden State Warriors are still not functioning at the highest, most reasonable level for them. Stephen Curry hesitated, reset, and reloaded, before clanking a couple more wide open 3s. If the head of the snake is struggling, that goes for the rest of the team, at least in the aggregate. But at least for one night, the Warriors slaughtered the Orlando Magic to the tune of a 30-point 122-92 blowout.
The rest of the Warriors stole the show. The spark off the bench was played by Ian Clark. The defensive mastermind was anchored by Andre Iguodala, along with 5 breakaway dunks fueled by transition efforts after stops. Klay Thompson functioned at his best, coming off screens and railing shot after shots regardless of opponent. To the point of 21 points in the first quarter. And the entire team combined for 36 assists, a mark that made them so fun to watch and ultimately, unstoppable.
The bench was solid as Steve Kerr rejiggered the rotations and flipped Curry and Draymond Green to start the second quarter. The defense suffocated Orlando though most of that was combined with the Magic’s inability to shoot and training camp-esque mistakes that culminated in a 6-men on the floor tech after a timeout. The transition fun was back as Green ripped down every rebound (11) and flew up the court with a purpose to get the offense moving before the defense could set.
But what still remained was Curry’s 2-7 from distance. After a mild ankle sprain that sent a scare into what was a partially empty Oracle arena all night, he returned and was superb in all facets of the game. The finishes at the rim were consistent and the passes were sublime out of pick-and-rolls as he dished out 7 in a heavy PNR first half scheme. Moving off the ball, Steph looked as good as ever. Thanks to a listless defense, most shots were wide open. And they continued to fall by the wayside. One shot took an extra second. The next open 3 took Steph so long to reload the ball, one could barely believe his eyes. To open the second half, Steph had no choice but to fling up a wild deep 3 and was rewarded with a banked make. To end the third, he confidently flicked one from fullcourt, perhaps a foreshadowing to a regaining of confidence that he wants us to presume has never left.
So the Warriors wait, and keep sitting on pins and needles for the greatest shooter of all time to nail the type of open threes that even the worst shooters wouldn’t shy away from. This stretch is starting to drag, and maybe even starting to wear on Steph as well. But the Warriors have time, and they have the right guy to keep shooting them out of this slump.