Game Thread: Paschall available! Semi-small ball?
Short-handed Warriors looking for more small ball success against Spurs
The Golden State Warriors continue their Texas road trip, as they head into San Antonio tonight for the first game of a back-to-back series against Greg Popovich’s well-trained squad. Stephen Curry is doing everything he can to drag the Warriors back into relevance this season, but he’ll need some help from the rest of the Golden State crew. It’s cool to become the second Warrior since Wilt to bust loose for multiple 55-point games in a single season, but those accolades feel much better when attached to a win.
San Antonio is a bit shorthanded themselves, as it looks like LaMarcus Aldridge is on the shelf with some sort of hip issue. Aldridge hasn’t been playing up to his usual standards though, so assuming the backups can fill in the gaps just a bit, this may not be much of a disadvantage.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (12-11) at San Antonio Spurs (13-10)
WHEN: Monday, February 8, 2021 // 5:30 pm PST
“Kind of weird walking off the court knowing we didn’t get the W.”
That was Curry, talking during postgame availability after the Warriors dropped the game late to lose to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. Curry’s 57 points weren’t enough. Nor was his earlier 38-point explosion enough to get by the Celtics last week. Curry is now putting up the third-most efficient shooting season of his career on second highest usage rate, and it often still isn’t enough.
In the classic movie, The Crow, starring Brandon Lee, there’s a scene where the titular hero is out extracting his revenge against the drug gang that murdered him and his wife (there’s no spoilers for a movie that came out last century, right?). Anyways, as one of the gangsters is meeting his end, the Crow has him all beat up, laying in a bathtub, and all the dude can say as the Crow looms over him, is “you’re wasting it.” That guy was more concerned about the wasted drugs that the Crow was throwing on the floor than he was about the loss of his own life.
That’s how forsaking these gifts from Curry feels to me. Win or lose, I just don’t want to feel like the Warriors are wasting a single moment of Curry’s best years. He’s third in the NBA in scoring, and yet because the Warriors are barely sniffing the edge of the playoffs, the only time Curry’s name is attached to the MVP discussion is in regards to being snubbed. It’s generally “the best player on the best team” for me, so I get it; but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Even knowing how the team got here, and expecting some gradual improvement, it’s tough to see. Golden State has some well defined structural weaknesses, holding the third-lowest offensive rebounding rate, the fourth-lowest defensive rebounding rate in the NBA… and without centers, it’s not clear where the correction is going to come from.
Checking in on the Spurs
The last time these two teams met, the Warriors managed to come out on top, smashing the Spurs by 22 points. In that game, DeMar DeRozan was held to 15 points (on a brutally inefficient 37.5% eFG%), but Golden State will be hard pressed to replicate the feat again.
Don’t look now, but DeRozan is averaging 21.9 points per game, and he’s leading the team with 6.6 assist per game (13th in the league). The Warriors definitely have ample options here. Between Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre, Golden State should be able to keep a handle on DeRozan’s offense - assuming the Spurs bigs don’t post us up to death. But it’s what happens downstream that is the concern here. Without the big bodies to fight down low, Jakob Poeltl may leverage his 7’2”, 240 pound frame to victory over the pesky Warriors’ frontline.
It’s hard to imagine this team getting another big game like that last one from Curry tonight, but then again, what is this man’s floor right now? And on a related note, who on the Spurs is going to D up Curry?
So, I’ll go with a big night from Curry, and another solid defensive effort from Wiggins to keep the Spurs’ primary scorer in check. The Warriors win a defensive brawl, and emerge with the victory: 105-99.
Short preview today, so in celebration of Klay Thompson’s birthday, please check out this fantastic musical interlude from our very own Daniel Hardee.