What we learned as Steph drops 45 in Dubs’ win over Clippers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — You can exhale. The Warriors still are undefeated to open the season after beating both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, a feat Golden State has failed to accomplish for the last two seasons.
And the reasons they were able to do it are clear: The Warriors have more depth. They are relatively healthy. And overall just have more skill.
That being said, there is still a long way to go before they can consider themselves true NBA title contenders, and it was explicitly displayed during their 115-113 win over the Clippers in the Warriors’ home-opener Thursday night at Chase Center.
After starting the night on fire, the Warriors squandered an 18-point lead in the second.
But in the final five minutes of the game, the Warriors came up big. Damion Lee hit two clutch 3-pointers to put the Warriors up four. A few plays later, Steph Curry danced to the basket for a spinning layup. With two minutes left, Curry hit a monster 3-pointer. Then he hit another. Draymond Green and Lee locked up Paul George on defense. Game over.
It’s clear: the pieces are there. The shooting is there. The chemistry is there. But the Warriors continue to suffer lapses that will become costly if they aren’t already.
Here are three takeaways from the home-opener:
Steph’s perfect quarter
One night’s trash is another night’s treasure. After scoring 21 points against the Lakers two days ago, Curry dropped 25 points in the first quarter alone and did so on perfect 9-for-9 shooting, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range. Oh, he also had one block, one steal, one assist and two rebounds in that period.
While Curry probably won’t call his game “trash” again, he will more than likely acknowledge he needed to do better. After his stellar first quarter, Curry scored just three points in the second.
But he found some rhythm again in the second half. No, it wasn’t as perfect as it was to start the night, but it was enough as Curry hit two clutch 3-pointers as the final minutes of the game counted down.
He finished the night with his 50th-career 40-point game, putting up 45 points on 16-of-25 shooting, including eight 3-pointers.
Curry is no stranger to catching fire as he did for the first 12 minutes. He did it countless times last season, on his way to being the league’s leading scorer. But there was a stark contrast to this shooting clinic: The noise in the building. For the first time in 16 months, Curry got to go off in front of a home crowd. That first quarter was the perfect welcome back to Chase Center.
Chemistry continues to click
Even though the Warriors introduced several new key players to their team and have a different rotation than last season, it’s clear that the chemistry is already there.
In the first quarter, Andre Iguodala — who once again proved he still has a decent amount of gas and bounce left in his tank — blocked Eric Bledsoe’s driving layup attempt, knocking the ball to Jordan Poole, who brought the ball up the court and found Nemanja Bjelica cutting to the hoop. Poole tossed up the perfect alley-oop pass to Bjelica, who finished off the picture-perfect play. It was a play that was seen regularly during the Warriors’ 2014-15 season. There were countless plays throughout the night that appeared to be broken until a Warrior would somehow find his teammate, and pass their way into saving the possession.
While the Warriors’ passing hasn’t always been the sharpest (we’ll come back to this), they have been racking up the assists so far.
After dishing out 30 assists on their 41 made buckets against the Lakers on opening night, the Warriors followed that up by having 27 assists to their 43 baskets against the Clippers on Thursday.
It’s another testament to the chemistry this team has so far, and as they spend more time together their passing will become cleaner and assist numbers will grow.
Too many turnovers
So, remember that loose passing I mentioned above? Let’s talk about it.
Against the Clippers, the Warriors’ sloppiness and turnovers were the sole reason Los Angeles got back into the game in the second quarter — ending the half on a 25-5 run — and stayed right there through the end of the game.
The Warriors kept their plays extremely tight in the first quarter, committing just four turnovers and allowing just four points off those turnovers.
The Warriors committed eight more turnovers in the second quarter, leading to 10 more points. Then five more turnovers came in the third. In total, the Warriors coughed up 21 turnovers for a total of 18 Clipper points — almost none of which were forced.
Golden State gave up the ball in nearly every way imaginable: Lazy passes, bad passes, reckless passes, dribbling the ball of their feet, as Andrew Wiggins did with the Warriors down one with 1:23 left in the game. Curry committed six turnovers to his one assist, while Jordan Poole was responsible for six more.
Meanwhile, the Clippers committed just seven turnovers that led to six Warriors’ points.
Golden State struggled with turnovers in their season-opener against the Lakers as well, committing 17. This is the most glaring issue with the Warriors so far this early season.