On a night when Steph Curry couldn’t find his rhythm against a hunting defense, the warriors’ shortcomings were on display.
In the Warriors’ 108-101 defeat by the Clippers on Wednesday night at the Chase Center, Curry was the target of Patrick Beverley’s defense in the chest and a permanent doubles team that pushed the ball out of his hands. And since Klay Thompson had lost for the season to an Achilles tear and Draymond Green was reluctant to score, the Warriors (4-4) had no recourse as Curry was 5-of-17 (1-of-6 von) finished with only 13 points (3-point range), five assists and four rebounds.
Andrew Wiggins’ push in the second quarter and 19 points from Eric Paschall, who led a banking unit that surpassed that of the Clippers 47-34, were not enough. Without a consistent source of offense, the Warriors were outdone by the All-Star Clippers duo (6-3) composed of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
After a 10-0 run with Damion Lee’s 3-pointer, the Warriors took the lead 87-83 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. However, Leonard went up and down a run of 25 to 10 to comfortably improve the Clippers by 11 at 1:36. Leonard and George both finished with 21 points each.
Make no mistake, this game was a slog. Sloppy sales piled up, the game was played at a creeping pace, and both teams battled to take perimeter shots or offend on the half-court. Golden State went 8-for-30 from 3-point range, while the Clippers shot 11-for-34 from a distance.
But these are also the games where the top teams find a way to win. The Warriors were carried by a banking unit that was numerically strong and competed in the fourth quarter. They never broke up, they were just over-talented.
After being blown away by championship-caliber teams in Brooklyn and Milwaukee earlier in the season, this could be taken as a sign that the Warriors are emerging as playoff contenders.
« I love this team, » said head coach Steve Kerr. “They compete like crazy. They pick up things and get better by the day … This is a really very good group and we will improve quite a bit as the season progresses. »
This was the first game in a two-game series against the Clippers and a challenging seven-game course featuring some of the best in the league. The rematch is Friday when the Warriors will try to find a way to get Curry rolling and explain a talent mismatch that could be exploited over the next few weeks.
Beverley is a pest: Beverley made a career out of being an irritant who guards the full court, invades the personal space and mocks after failure. He’s the type of gamer tailored to pester Curry, and the Clippers let him go.
Curry had to work for even the smallest space, and when he earned it, the Clippers sent help. The strategy was simple: take the ball out of Curry’s hands. And it worked because Curry’s usage rate (23.9%) was 11 points below its seasonal average (34.9%).
Defense is improving: The Clippers are a jump shot team and played for a second night in a row so tired legs could have resulted in missing midfielders and the 3-point attempts they normally made. But they are also very talented. It could have been easy for Wiggins or Kelly Oubre to be overwhelmed by Leonard and George, or for Lou Williams to dominate the Golden State bank. Instead, Wiggins entered Leonard’s airspace and Oubre, a constant pest, never made George feel comfortable. Williams, who shoots four shots in 20 minutes, is a win and after forcing the Clippers to 20 turnovers tonight, the Warriors will be in the top five in the league in opposing turnovers. « We’ve got so much better on the defensive in the last week or 10 days, » said Kerr.
On the subject of matching items
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Wiggins is their wing stopper: One of the questions of the season was who on this team can credibly defend the top wings in the NBA. With Thompson, that responsibility fell on Wiggins. – MATCHUP NUMBERS. After the Clippers are back in the Chase Center on Friday, Wiggins will pull the Leonard order again. Future roles include Pascal Siakam, Victor Oladipo, Michael Porter Jr., Devin Booker and LeBron James.
« I know every game is, » said Wiggins. « I know I have to bring it because when I take a break, breathe in, they’re on my neck. So I have to stick with it. »
Strong banking unit: After today’s performance of 46 points, the Warriors bench should be among the top five units in the league. Paschall plays as a center for small balls and has become the anchor of a group that quickly leaves the pitch, changes defensively and can cause mismatches on the offensive.
« On the defensive we hang our hats and we have a lot of stops tonight, » said Kent Bazemore, who, along with Brad Wanamaker and Lee, is a central part of the rotation of the second unit. « We are able to get out in the transition. And having Eric in the five and with the space gap that we have as a unit is very important to us. »
The Warriors’ Statement: Prior to the hint, Kerr asked his team and met with Clippers trainer Ty Lue to discuss how the two teams would recognize today’s events at the Capitol. During the warm-up, the warriors wore shirts that read « BLACK LIVES MATTER » and both teams kneeled during the national anthem. After the game, several players and coaches discussed how difficult it was to balance the violence caused by Trump and systemic inequality while preparing for a basketball game.
« As blacks, worse things are done to us when we protest peacefully, » said Wiggins. « That’s the crazy part, and I hope this wakes the world up to let them know nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. Had there been blacks there, they would all have been shot before they even got to the building . »
A passionate anti-Trumper, Kerr was encouraged by the results of the Georgia runoff election that took Democrats control of the Senate this morning.
“And then all of a sudden you see the Capitol being stormed with no reaction, while the officials of the Jacob Blake shooting weren’t charged. It’s such an obvious contrast how people in this country are treated because of the color of their skin. »
Green said, “To see the National Guard standing on the same steps in a peaceful protest and now seeing a terrorist attack and not the National Guard, it just shows where this country is, where this country has always been . ”
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