Curry's big night, solid bench play, launch Warriors past big deficit to beat Clippers
Golden State ends the game on a 52-20 run led by defense and transition threes
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is caught in a tough situation. Balancing between consistency, and flexibility, the roster is still very much a work in progress - and one that Kerr has to tinker with constantly, while also trying to offer a sense of stability. It’s really just the edges of the roster though. With a core of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, supported by Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors have a framework that they can hang a bunch of roster options around. It gives Kerr a lot of different options and combinations of personnel to play around with.
These baseball-style homestand series offer a new glimpse of how teams plan and counterplan for each other, and last night was the second time that Golden State rose up to beat an opponent that had given them trouble in the previous game. It was an impressive 22-point comeback, fueled by both good offense, and stout defense.
Just a crazy run by Golden State to steal this game in the second half:
“We know who we are. We love the fight."
That was Curry’s response last night when asked if the win over the Clippers sent a message. Curry started off with “no message necessary” but then went ahead and reminded everyone, on the off chance they forgot.
Curry was phenomenal (again).
38 points, 11 assists, and a whole lot of attention. Seriously, look at the sort of defensive coverage that Curry draws.
Curry is pushing himself right into the thick of this season’s MVP discussion, carrying a roster in a way that he never has before, and coming up huge. There’s no Kevin Durant, no Klay Thompson here to share the limelight. It’s always been Curry’s team here, but it’s a little more true this season.
That image above is reminiscent of teams packing the paint against someone like LeBron, but out in space like that, Curry can drop a three over the coverage, or dribble you into a self-imposed spin and then squeeze past you for a layup.
Curry is mandatory viewing right now. Even as the team works to figure itself out, we all know who Curry is and what he can do - the cool thing right now is how often he’s doing it.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggins
In the Orson Scott Card series, the main character, Ender Wiggin is chosen at a young age to lead humanity’s war effort against an alien species. But his upbringing is far from gentle; bullied at school, tormented by his brother, and generally pushed to the breaking point so that he’d understand that he can only rely on himself to solve his problems, Wiggin eventually succeeds in his mission.
Andrew Wiggins, the basketball player rose up from a similar pedigree. Highly touted as a young prospect, he got stuck in Minnesota with a team that can’t play defense, and a co-star that was softer than a peeled grape.
With the Warriors, Wiggins is thriving.
After turning in one of his best stretches of his career in limited run with Golden State last season, Wiggins is right back in the thick of things, playing a very clear second fiddle to the core of Curry and Green. It’s a pairing that many (myself included) were skeptical of - but the way Wiggins is playing this season is beyond reproach.
He’s been the team’s best wing defender, is now shooting 40% from beyond the arc, and is the team’s second-leading scorer behind Curry. So no, Wiggins dagger in the 4th quarter wasn’t a total shock, but it sure was a nice surprise.
Golden State doesn’t erase that 22-point deficit without Wiggins, nor would they have been within sniffing distance of the Clippers in that first game. His defense and reliability are sorely needed, and he’s been delivering.
In Wiggins, the Warriors have found a two-way player that is going to slot in nicely alongside Klay Thompson on both sides of the court. Watching Wiggins this season, especially his defense, has been a pleasant surprise. Well, “surprise” may not be the right word, since Wiggins was showing flashes of defensive excellence last season, but whatever you want to call it, Wiggins’ defense was once again a critical element of the Warriors most recent victory. Check out Kawhi Leonard’s stats when guarded by Wiggins last night:
The asymmetric warfare of Eric Paschall, backup center
At just 6’6” Eric Paschall doesn’t feel like a center. His game leans heavily on isolation scoring opportunities, where the combination of his quickness, and wide shoulders allow him to work his own graceful style of bully ball.
He played 20 minutes in last night’s game, more than starting center (and future hall of famer), James Wiseman. According to Synergy Sports data, Paschall has one of the best scoring metrics of anyone on the team, pitching in around 1.2 points per possession - a mark that ranks him in the top 10% of players at his position. He’s now played some of the best backup centers off the court, and discovering this role for Paschall is clearly one of the biggest success stories of the young season.
6th man of the year? Most improved player? Who knows. It’s still early, but the way Paschall is playing, it’s hard not to notice how important this man is to the Warriors successes.
Paschall isn’t alone. Through a combination of Kelly Oubre’s missing offense, and overall funkiness, and a need for more shooting alongside Curry, a number of bench players are emerging from the sidelines to make a positive impact on the game.
It was Kent Bazemore, Damion Lee, and Brad Wanamaker that were playing the majority of minutes during the big comeback. The gameflow may paste a little small into this article, if so you can click here to go to the main page, but look at the lead change slope that occurred last night, starting about midway through the third quarter
Here’s the always excellent, Anthony Slater writing about this group - a non-traditional lineup that uses small centers and spaced out shooters to cause havoc:
But it was the surprisingly small but sturdy closing lineup that muscled the Warriors home. It was Brad Wanamaker, who hit two big 3s and guarded Paul George down the stretch. It was Andrew Wiggins, who has been terrific the past handful of games. It was Lee, the steady hand, and Green, the defensive brains, and Curry, the court’s gravitational pull, who scored 38 and was responsible for about 60 other points.
The Warriors are off today, but resume their difficult home slog tomorrow, welcoming the Toronto Raptors to Chase Center.
While Kerr and the Warriors will continue to tinker, it’s extremely encouraging to see that this roster can indeed work.