Steph Curry oozes class. Golden State Warriors’ poster boy dazzled at the Oracle Arena even. While he wasn’t at his best from the three-point line in victories over Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves, he showed his ability to assist. There wasn’t much splash but Curry’s awareness to find a team-mate in a space with a cunning pass was something to behold. His role as the team’s talisman, particularly in absence of Kevin Durnant against the Wolves was clear. Curry and the Warriors were sloppy in the opening two quarters. The 2015 MVP sharpened up in the second half and Warriors eased to a 125-101 win. What was particularly refreshing was Curry’s honesty in his media conference.
“That was all my fault, to be honest. The team sees me throwing the ball all over the place (and) try to take too many chances early in the game, and that’s kind of contagious,” Curry said.
“So, I kind of set a bad tone in that regard. Everything else was great. We were playing solid defense. We just had, like I think three boneheaded plays where we either tried to take a chance in transition, or (I) got myself trapped with no outlet.
“After we figured that out we kind of broke the game open. So, that’s kind of how things go for us. We wanted a possession game and (to) take care of the basketball, usually our talent takes over.”
Durant was another player who caught the attention. He won the NBA Finals MVP in 16/17 to silence some of his critic. But his decision to swap Oklahoma City Thunder for the Warriors continues to attract criticism. Notably, Durant’s defensive game has improved this season. It was notable during Golden State’s 97-80 won against Miami Heat. His ability to improve this facet of his game.
Klay Thompson’s struggles were well documented during the NBA Finals earlier this year. His defensive games was sound against the Cavs but his shooting game was lacking. Thompson has put that right this season. With Curry misfiring and Durant out with a thigh problem on Wednesday night, Thompson carried his team from the three point line against both the Wolves and the Heat. In fact, he led all scorers with 28 points, hitting 6 of 12 from three-point range. Thompson has now tallied one-or-more three-point baskets in 66 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA and is the ninth-longest streak in league history. It makes for a tantalising prospect when the Warriors have their big three at the peak of their powers.
With Durant out, Andre Iguodala started for Golden State against the Wolves. The 33-year-old slotted in well with some confident shooting. While Nick Young didn’t feature against Miami, he was also superb in their 125-point win on Wednesday night. Even Omri Cassipi scored a season-high 13 points (5-of-7). Helping Curry and Klay Thompson rack up a commanding lead. Shaun Livingston, JaVale Magee, Patrick McCaw and Jourdan Bell all contributed, too. Watching the impact from the bench highlighted just why Golden State are the best team in the league.
What was really evident about the Warriors was the team spirit. Head coach Steve Kerr is known for spreading minutes around his roster. He preaches selflessness and it shows. While Curry and Durant are superstars, there is is a clear humility from the duo. That spreads throughout the team. Players like Iguodala and Livingston are happy to come off the bench to do a job even when there would be a chance to secure more minutes elsewhere. Of course teams often speak about players not being bigger than a team, but this is often merely platitudes. With the Warriors, it really is a thing.
“I actually kind of like these games when we have to sit somebody in a weird way. It’s good for our team. We are lucky we are in a position where we have so much talent that we can afford to miss one of our main guys and still be able to compete at a high level.
“On a night like this, it allows guys like Omri (Casspi) and Nick to step in there and get good minutes. It’s good for the team, it’s good for morale and it’s good for individual development. It forces the group to play together when you are missing one of your main guys.
“I like nights like this and as I said we are fortunate to be able to, with our depth and our talent, make up for the loss of a great player.”
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BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge
BIOGRAPHY: Kepa Arrizabalaga