It’s always nice to start off the new season with a win and although it wasn’t the prettiest one Golden State will have this season, a W is a W.
The Warriors started out the night sloppy and it had the feel of one of those games where the team just doesn’t have it. Stephen Curry wasn’t hitting shots, Draymond Green and Jordan Poole had a few miscues that led to turnovers, and they had a handful of ill-advised shots. Not to mention they had four first-quarter turnovers. To an extent, that can be expected in the first game of the season but after the way the preseason went, it did surprise me a little.
But they stayed together and found a way to fight through it. Despite a sloppy start, at the end of the first quarter, they found themselves down just two points. A good portion of that can be attributed to the Warriors bench play, which was the theme for the night.
Nemanja Bjelica chipped in and put up 4 points and 2 rebounds. Andre Iguodala put up 5 points and a block. Damion Lee came in and got to the line twice and knocked down all four of his shots at the charity stripe. The bench coming in and closing the gap is a luxury the Warriors didn’t have much of last season, but the sloppiness didn’t end there.
After a strong finish to the first quarter, the Warriors were unable to parlay that into a strong second quarter. They continued to be careless with the ball as a group, which led to seven more turnovers. But what stood out to me the most was the shots that they were settling for.
The team shot just 34.6% for the quarter and they didn’t seem to have any type of rhythm or flow out there as a group. And I would say they were bordering playing selfish out there, but it really just felt like everyone was pressing. Poole particularly looked like he was too amped up as he shot just 1-5 for the quarter, including one really bad 3PA that he jacked up on a 2-on-1 fastbreak.
But despite all of that the Warriors’ defense and their bench kept them in the game. They forced five steals and caused a total of six turnovers for the quarter and held the Lakers to 10/25 from the field and 2/9 from downtown. The bench outscored the starters 11 to 10 in the quarter and they actually played a little less than the starting group.
The Warriors found themselves down just six after an extremely frustrating first half and although they weren’t playing great, the game was still right there for the taking. And you’ll live with that almost every day of the week.
3rd Quarter- An Absolute Roller Coaster
The Warriors quickly tied it up by the 9:39 mark of the period, which led to a Lakers timeout and the Warriors with seemingly all the momentum. But the Lakers responded with a little 7-0 run of their own and it felt like the game was starting to slip away as we got towards the middle of the quarter.
But Golden State did all the little things they needed to do to keep themselves in this one. They outrebounded the Lakers 16 to 10 and got the Lakers in the bonus relatively early in the quarter, which paid dividends. They shot just 9 for 25 in the quarter but 12 free throw attempts helped keep them in it even if they only did make just eight of them. Even though they didn’t shoot well, they looked a lot more cohesive as a unit which led to 8 assists on 9 of their baskets.
Not to mention, Jordan Poole finally settled down and racked up 9 points of his own and the Warriors needed every single one of them.
The Lakers got the lead up to 10 with two and a half minutes remaining, but the Warriors found a way to turn it around, outscoring the Lakers 47-30 the rest of the way.
The Warriors finished the quarter on a 9-1 run and were down just two points going into the fourth as the game was still right there for them to snatch.
Golden State put up 38 points in the final period and they were firing on all cylinders; not a single player had a negative plus-minus.
The Warriors made 12 of their 19 shots and went a perfect 8-8 from the foul line. Poole built on his bounce-back 3rd quarter knocking down 3 of his 4 shots to go along with a pair of assists. Bjelica chipped in 7 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Lee dropped in 7 points including a big 3 that let the Warriors take the lead early in the quarter.
The Warriors were able to extend that lead to 8, but after a Nemanja Bjelica flagrant foul, a quick three from Avery Bradley, and a turnover that led to Lakers points, it was once again just a two-point game with a little less than six minutes to go as the Warriors called a timeout.
Curry then hit a timely three to stop the bleeding and the Warriors didn’t really look back. Avery Bradley cut the Lakers’ deficit back to two but Bjelica responded with a quick three of his own and the Warriors ran away with the win.
A Group Effort
The Warriors’ bench put up a total of 55 points and the Warriors backcourt helped pace the starting unit. Poole finished with 20 points after a rough start and although Curry never found his shot, he finished with a triple-double. And Andrew Wiggins quietly had an efficient 12 points and 7 rebounds, while Green contributed 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
I actually liked seeing the Warriors struggle from time to time in this one because they ended up responding every time it started to go south. It’s always good to see a team overcome adversity and that’s what the Warriors did, even if it was mostly self-inflicted.
As far as the bigger picture goes, the biggest thing to me was the bench play. The Warriors were at the bottom of the league last year in bench points and while I don’t expect them to play this well every single night, they’ve definitely upgraded their bench and it’ll be even stronger when Klay Thompson returns.
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