The Warriors arguably performed their greatest recreation of the Saturday season – a two-way dominance of the Oklahoma City Thunder that led to a 22-point street victory, 110-88.
On the heels of Saturday's victory and Wednesday's spectacular win over Houston in Texas, the Warriors appear to have their mojo again. And to assume – they did all of it with out Kevin Durant in line.
Because the play-offs went quick, some lessons have been collected from the final two video games and what they might imply to get forward:
Klay Thompson have to be half of the totally defensive crew
Kyrie Irving could also be a world-class troll as of late, however he was proper about one factor.
It appears that it’s good that I’ve to rethink my views on the form of the earth. (Who is aware of what else he can do?)
"I would like to see him in a number of more defensive teams," stated Irving of his major defender, Klay Thompson, in the Warriors' January win over Boston.
When Irving was advised that Thompson by no means truly made an NBA All-Defensive crew in his Hall of Fame profession, the response was blunt and clear:
"That's a bull -."
Those in science, similar to Irving, have been carrying this flag for weeks, if not months, however this have to be the 82-game marketing campaign that has the improper rights. And if my friends in the media with votes for that award want some conviction, they simply have to take a look at what Thompson did in his final two video games.
Against James Harden on Wednesday, he held the Rockets star to 9 factors in 23 possessions, with out polluting him as soon as. Not precisely MVP numbers.
On Saturday, Thompson was the foremost defender at Russell Westbrook. Historically, this was an excellent matchup for Thompson, and earlier this season, he let Westbrook rating solely two factors on 36 possessions. Saturday, Thompson one-upped that, not permitting Westbrook to attain on him.
Russell Westbrook & # 39; s 16th technical of the season. Incoming one recreation suspension until it’s withdrawn … can not think about that it will occur. pic.twitter.com/OnDwywL0f2
– Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) March 17, 2019
In complete, Westbrook went 2-for-16 on Saturday – his solely two making a sneaky under-the-basket format and an aggressive backdown, turnaround 8-footer on Stephen Curry with one other 4 minutes in a 20-point recreation.
The desolate execution of Westbrook assured the loss of the Thunder, and whereas the Oklahoma City guard actually contributed to the case together with his id-dominated recreation and comical ranges of sizzling mood, Thompson deserves an immense honor as he pays tribute to the work of the Jewess did him.
Russ & # 39; reply 3 direct questions on his 16th tech (leading to a 1 recreation suspension):
"Next question." pic.twitter.com/2Z259FAOW
– SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 17, 2019
That, of course, is a pattern – when the greatest NBA guards play Thompson, they discover they’ve a tough time. The elitist footwork, measurement and excessive engine of the Warrior are troublesome to counter, particularly for smaller level guards.
Damian Lillard from Portland collects a median of 0.18 factors this 12 months towards Thompson. Utah & # 39; s Donovan Mitchell is barely higher at 0.20. Chris Paul has seven factors in 60 possessions towards Thompson (a 0.11 ratio) to go together with the low Harden quantity for Houston. Washington & # 39; s Bradley Beal is 0.21 factors per possession, Irving is 0.20 and Kemba Walker has two factors in 20 possessions.
Those are indeniable elite defending numbers for Thompson.
The Warriors already know this – there’s a motive he indicators these matchups anyway – however possibly it's time for the total competitors to begin recognizing Thompson as one of the elite defenders of the recreation.
Durant prefers to play the recreation a bit slower than his Warriors teammates – and once more, you’ll try this should you have been 7 toes lengthy and will shoot double groups all day lengthy.
So with Durant out of line-up this week, you may need thought the Warriors would attempt to throw it again to 2015 and pace up their offense a bit of.
However, it appears that evidently they did the reverse.
Don't get me improper, the Warriors are nonetheless popping out of the transition – headed for missed photographs and gross sales (of which there have been sufficient on Saturday) – however there appears to be a renewed ease and endurance in the semi-official undeniable fact that, frankly, this season was lacking sometimes.
It is a pattern measurement of two video games – maybe not so vital in the totality of issues – however towards two potential playoff opponents and maybe the two largest threats of the Warriors in the Western Conference sequence, the success shouldn’t be automated turned down.
Of course it additionally takes two to tango – neither the Rockets of Thunder performed elite defenses this week – however I can't assist however assume that the Warriors have unlocked one thing on the subject of efficiency of their units.
And it's all about DeMarcus Cousins.
The great man's unimaginable crusing capacity has appeared in spurts since he first spoke for the Warriors, however it has turn into a function of Warriors' offense over the final two video games: Golden State is searching for a strong proportion of their actions – particularly with the second unit – by cousins, in the excessive or low publish.
It needs to be famous that wholesome cousins are wanted to get this to a most, however we see that there’s something that also seems to be like that model. Cousins have been a dominant power towards the Rockets Wednesday and appeared completely gorgeous on Sunday. The relaxation between the matches did him good, and he can anticipate so much from that sort of relaxation, the postseason.
The uncommon capacity of cousins to throw their weight round in the low publish, pointing upwards and flattening a shot in the baseline or excessive publish, and both capturing or dribbling at the basket from the edge, makes him a Staggering man to problem – he can function from all three zones, and the Warriors have one of the solely guys in the league who can defend all three zones (Draymond Green).
Add his ardour – which is usually very intelligent – and you’ve got an offensive dynamo. Cousins had a mixed 13 assists in the final two video games.
Now add the fixed motion of the Warriors round him and you’ve got basketball magic – even when it takes a while to develop.
So will the Warriors sustain with the assault of the final two video games and match Durant into the combine or will they return to previous methods when KD returns?
I guess the first one, and I believe Durant thrives effectively in the system – so long as he can adapt to it a bit.
If the Warriors need to proceed utilizing cousins as a hub when he’s in court docket, Durant should make a sacrifice and quit some of his isolation possessions.
Before he left the line-up, these isolating possessions have been a necessity for elements of the recreation the place the Warriors had restricted scorers on the court docket, however they might additionally bleed in the possessions performed with the greatest Warriors line-ups. But with cousins taking over a central distribution position, these isolations will primarily be flow-stopping.
That stated, Cousins as the hub ought to lead to so much of open photographs for Durant and doubtless additionally a rise in assists. We have sometimes seen Durant & # 39; s distinctive passing energy this 12 months – you’ll be able to declare he has been a proto-boogie – and there will likely be so much of pocket passes to the cutters and swing-around passes to the shooters to open that he can discover with the defensive consideration that’s unfold and the enhanced motion of the Warriors of the ball.
For years I’ve stated that the Warriors have two sorts of smoke – the Curry pleasure and the Durant ruthlessness – and that having two choices could cause fluidity issues, however resulting from the playoff time, Golden State is the most harmful crew in the competitors.
Well, with Cousins doing what he does, I feel the Warriors have a 3rd sort of smoke. It is just not solely cheerful and it’s not utterly ruthless – it’s one thing that’s recognized and but completely different, and I feel it’d be capable to bridge the hole between the two kinds with distinctive ease.
The Warriors have a ridiculous San Antonio-and-Minnesota subsequent week – glorious alternatives for Warriors coaches to let some gamers relaxation, particularly after the Dubs' assertion wins Wednesday and Saturday.
At a sure second, nonetheless, we are going to see if my speculation is right.
Oh, and Andrew Bogut, who joins the crew when it arrives in the Bay Area subsequent week – he's additionally an excellent passer-by. Could which were an element of this recreation planning resolution?
This season could also be previous, however the Warriors appeared to have realized a brand new trick.
The puzzle is sort of full
With Durant from the line-up, Steve Kerr made a quantity of vital adjustments to the rotations of the Warriors, with Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell changing into regulars and favoring clear combos exterior the elements of the first 5.
Cook was a welcome addition – he’s there for his capacity to shoot and he makes up for that menace. He has performed 28 minutes in the final two video games – solely two of them have been non-rotation, garbage-time minutes – and disappeared 6-of-Eight from the ground for 15 factors. He even had six rebounds towards Oklahoma City on Saturday.
Cook's questionable protection has additionally proved to be no downside, as he performs alongside the all the time underrated Shaun Livingston and Thompson. With these two guys on the ground, Cook can cover on the worst shooter of the opponent, who’s often simply in the nook.
The chef has been so strong, I might not be shocked if he sticks to a model of his present position for the relaxation of the season.
Bell has additionally performed effectively, though he’ll most likely discover fewer minutes when Durant returns to the line-up.
It will likely be fascinating to see how Kerr adjustments the rotations when that occurs – he stated Wednesday that he desires to separate the minutes of Cousins and Green, which has resulted in a mixture of Curry and Green whereas Cousins and Thompson are a duo have turn into. That ought to stay the identical, however which duo will Durant land on? And what about Andre Iguodala, who was glorious in the final two video games?
Chemistry is a fickle factor and it’s actually not one thing you need to fiddle with if you’ll do good issues. (How rapidly issues change for this crew.)
We realized a bit of about how the Warriors might rotate after the & # 39; postseason & # 39; however how Kerr interacts with this crew that’s getting utterly wholesome (if they’re already there) provides us the full story. And that, pals, is coming.