Golden State capped off an eight-game homestand with a dominating 119-93 victory on Friday night against the Bulls and then began their trip back east as they set out on a four-game road trip.
Stephen Curry and company flew across the country riding a seven-game win streak and a highly anticipated match-up with one of the favorites out east, the Brooklyn Nets, was creeping up on them. But not so fast – Golden State kicked off their road trip against the Charlotte Hornets.
Starting Off With a… Doozy?
After a 22 point loss in their first meeting, Charlotte came into Friday’s contest with a vengeance. The Warriors jumped out to an early lead but LaMelo Ball paced the Hornets with a 15 point first quarter and a three-point lead after the first 12 minutes of play.
The 2nd quarter was much of the same as Golden State, behind TEN 2nd quarter assists, tied things up at 57 heading into halftime. The 2nd quarter did give us a bit of surprise and something Warriors fans hope was a glimpse into the future as Jonathan Kuminga scored 9 points on 5 shots and grabbed four rebounds for the quarter.
Kuminga was active in his minutes and he appears to be more comfortable every single time he hits the floor. Three of his four baskets were credited to assists from teammates but Kuminga flashed his motor and athleticism by getting out and finishing on the break, and he even hit the defense with a nice spin move for a layup in the half-court.
Coming out of the locker room to start the 2nd half, neither team would waver; they continued to go blow for blow but with Curry starting to find his rhythm and a one-point lead heading into the final period, it felt like it was the Warriors game to lose.
It was the Warriors game to lose, and well… that’s exactly what they did. The NBA is often coined by the cliche, “it’s a make or miss league”, and that was deemed to be true Sunday night. The Dubs shot 6-22 in the 4th quarter and Curry himself went 1-8. They managed 5 assists on those 6 baskets but Golden State just couldn’t put the ball in the basket effectively enough when it really mattered. Their defense was there, holding the Hornets to just 19 points in the quarter but it wasn’t enough to overcome their shooting woes.
Back on Track
After dropping Curry’s homecoming game in Charlotte, the Warriors set out to make a statement against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn was without Joe Harris, Nicolas Claxton, and Paul Millsap but I’m really not sure it mattered.
Both teams got off to a hot start as Curry and Durant were dueling it out for much of the first quarter and it felt like Curry just couldn’t miss. He buried four triples in the quarter but the Nets got out to a 34-31 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, for Durant and his crew, tough times were merely around the corner.
The Warriors had another strong showing in the 2nd quarter as Andrew Wiggins led the way with 13 points on 4-5 shooting and a perfect 3-3 from the free-throw line. The 2nd quarter wasn’t perfect by any means and if it wasn’t for Wiggins we may have had an entirely different ball game on our hands heading into the break, but nonetheless, the Warriors found a way to execute. They created clean looks offensively and were able to work their way to the foul line for a total of 11 shots, knocking down 9 of them.
Coming out of the break, Golden State came out firing on all cylinders and the flood gates opened. The Warriors shot 72.2% for the quarter, totaled 10 assists, and gave the Nets a lesson on cleaning the glass, out-rebounding them 16-7. Not only was their offense stellar but their defense was spectacular too, holding Brooklyn to just 5-22 from the field for the quarter as they nearly doubled the Nets scoring output 35-18.
The final quarter was much ado about nothing as the Dubs waltzed to a victory. However, Stephen Curry wasn’t going to leave without topping off the big win – he put away 3 long balls in what looked like an attempt to drop another 40-piece, but he came up just short finishing with 37 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists while burying 9 triples on the night.
Golden State would go on to win 117-99 as they continue to dominate, regardless of their opponent.
Heading Into The Backend of The Road Trip
With Wednesday off, Golden State finishes the trip with a back-to-back against Cleveland and Detroit. Cleveland has been sneaky good as they zig while everybody else is zagging, but they’ve recently caught a case of the injury bug, and it looks as if they could be without a number of key players when they take on the Warriors come Thursday night.
While Cleveland plays tonight, the Warriors have the advantage of having a rest day heading into Thursday night. Normally, the Cavs would have a significant size advantage in this matchup but with their entire starting frontcourt possibly out, Cleveland will likely be forced to go small and that plays to the Warriors’ advantage.
Cleveland, who plays at one of the slower paces in the league, turns the ball over at one of the highest rates in the league, and isn’t efficient from beyond the arc or at getting to the foul line, is really just set up for failure in this matchup.
If I was a betting man, I’d back the Warriors in this clash regardless of what the spread is. Golden State is far and away the better team and with the Cavs likely coming in depleted, look for the Warriors to put Cleveland away early and not look back.
Following their game in Cleveland, the Dubs immediately head to Detroit to take on the now 3-10 Pistons. This is another game where the Warriors, barring a rest day for Curry, will be by far the more talented team. But the Pistons are still an NBA team and must be respected as such – if the Warriors come out lackadaisical Detroit will take advantage.
Detroit has a talented group of young players to go alongside Jerami Grant but Golden State needs to come in looking to give the Pistons a masterclass in how to win.
Main image credit: