5 highlights from Warriors’ back-to-back
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Charlotte Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers on consecutive nights. Here are five highlights from those nights.
The Golden State Warriors played a back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday. They took on the Charlotte Hornets at home. Then, the team flew to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers. Both games were big wins for the Warriors.
The Dubs continued to cook as they improved to 43-7 on the season. They’ve begun to build on what was a strong January by getting February started right. They’re slowly, but surely starting to click.
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For the sake of this piece, I’m only including things that happened on the court. It is worth mentioning some awesome stuff that happened off of it though. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were named Players of the Month for what they did in January. They were both incredible, putting up big numbers and dominating like many expected them to.
The most exciting thing that happened went down in between the games on the plane ride from the Bay Area to LA. JaVale McGee gave his new teammates a very thoughtful gift: a blanket with a sleeping Draymond Green on it. The center recorded it and put it on his Twitter account. Make sure you check it out because it’s hilarious.
The Warriors are the most exciting team in the league. They do something every game that makes you say “wow.” We are witnessing something special every time Golden State laces them up. The Dubs are a little hobbled right now, but they still got the job done.
With that said, here are five highlights from the Golden State Warriors’ back-to-back victories.
Kevin Durant rises for the slam
The Golden State Warriors are really hard to defend. They have weapons all over the place. Most importantly, those weapons are starting to click.
This Warriors’ offense could be the greatest one ever assembled when it’s all said and done. I mean, just look at the type of firepower they have all over the floor. When they’re having an off night they’re difficult to stay in front of. When they’re rolling, it’s over.
Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are getting more and more comfortable with each other as each game passes. The two MVPs were the most dangerous duo in the league on paper and they’re finally fulfilling that. They’re dominant.
The play in the video above exemplifies just how deadly they are, especially now that Curry is returning to his MVP form. The superstar point guard drove on the right side, beating Raymond Felton. DeAndre Jordan came over to help.
Curry threw a perfect behind-the-back pass to Durant who had spaced out to the three point line. He hesitated, let Jordan close out, and drove past the All-Star center. The rest of the Clippers were helpless as he rose up to slam it down hard.
It’s plays like this that make Golden State impossible to defend. If Jordan doesn’t help, Curry has a wide open layup. If Jordan doesn’t close out hard after the help, Durant has a wide open three. If he does both of those things, he lets Durant have a free look at the rim.
Now, had anyone offered any kind of resistance, Curry had floated to the corner. He didn’t have any defense anywhere near him and Durant could have kicked it out to him.
Basically, the Warriors have unlimited options.
Andre Iguodala beats the buzzer
While Golden State’s stars–like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant–have been leading the way, the rest of the team has been chipping in as well. They’ve been contributing in different ways on both ends. That includes Andre Iguodala.
The 2015 Finals MVP had a fantastic January. After a slow start to the season, he really picked it up. Iguodala found his shot, hitting over 54 percent of his threes in the month.
He has been playing much more aggressively as of late. He’s looking for his own shot, at least around the perimeter. For Iguodala, the challenge is gaining confidence inside again.
Early in his career, he was a high flyer. His athleticism allowed him to finish over defenders with power. His legs have a lot of mileage on them and he’s not quite as explosive as he once was. He has to be a little craftier with the basketball.
It seems that Iguodala has had problems finishing at the rim since LeBron James’ all-time chase down block in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. He’s experienced some basketball PTSD when attacking the basket. Layups haven’t been his strong suit.
It’s nice to see Iguodala regain that. In the Warriors’ victory over the Clippers, he sunk an amazing finger roll layup at the buzzer. He got the ball beyond half court and drove while warding Luc Mbah a Moute. He moved the ball away from Brandon Bass and scooped it around Marreese Speights.
The ball soared high up in the air, reached the top of the backboard, kissed the glass, and fell through the rim. It was a nifty finish that made everyone do a double take.
Damian Jones gets first NBA bucket
The Golden State Warriors have prided themselves in “Strength in Numbers.” While it’s a slogan that helps sell t-shirts, it’s also a philosophy that head coach Steve Kerr buys into.
Basically, he wants to use every member of the team. Sure, he relies on some of the superstar talent he’s fortunate enough to have, but he wants to get everyone involved. Each player will get their chance.
The Warriors are a little banged up right now. Zaza Pachulia and David West are both out with injuries so Golden State is a little thin at the center spot right now. But they’ve developed a next man up mentality so someone fills in.
The team had the 30th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. With the last pick of the first round, Golden State selected center Damian Jones out of Vanderbilt. He tore a pectoral muscle in his right arm and the Warriors have slowly brought him along.
Jones has played a lot with the team’s D-Leauge affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. He’s only played three games with the Golden State Warriors and he finally scored his first bucket with them against the Hornets.
James Michael McAdoo, who was playing the three in the Warriors’ garbage time lineup, drove the ball down the lane. He beat his man and Jones’ defender came over. McAdoo dropped the ball off to Jones, who gathered himself, let the defender fly by, and finished with the slam.
It was nice to see the rookie get his first points with Golden State. The team rewarded him with the game ball afterwards. The team is hoping to see many more buckets from him moving forward.
Damian Jones is in Golden State’s long-term plans. They don’t want to rush him, but they’ll bring him on slowly until he can become a real contributor for them.
Steph Curry pulls up from the logo
Stephen Curry is a very good three-point shooter. In fact, he’s so good that he made a lot of shots against the Hornets. In the clip above, he basically pulled up from Charlotte in a game that was being played in Oakland.
There was a lot of talk about Curry’s drop-off once Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors. He got off to a slow start and people thought he disappeared. They thought he forgot how to play basketball.
Curry is extremely difficult to defend. Analysts, both on TV and on Twitter, try to simplify it. They say putting size on him and playing him tightly around the line helps. And it does, to some extent.
Length has bothered him throughout his career. And taking the three-point shot away from the greatest shooter of all-time seems like a pretty sound strategy. But, of course, it’s a lot easier said than done. He’s quick and the Warriors set good screens to free him up.
But, sometimes, there’s absolutely nothing you can do. Like I said, he is the greatest shooter of all-time after all. He didn’t earn that by just being a solid spot up shooter. He has the most incredible range ever and can shoot off the dribble effortlessly.
Check out the shot in the video above. How many players in the history of the NBA have ever even thought about taking that shot, let alone making it? It wasn’t an end-of-quarter heave or a desperation attempt with the shot clock winding down. That was an actually shot he felt comfortable taking.
Steph Curry is back to hitting logo shots. It was one of his 11 three-pointers he made that night. It was absolutely cold-blooded.
If anyone ever tells you this man is humble and he’s not a killer, remind them that only savages do that kind of stuff.
Steph Curry crosses up Marvin Williams
And speaking of cold-blooded savagery….Stephen Curry ended Marvin Williams this game. It’s never an easy task guarding the two-time MVP. Turns out, it’s not an easy task even staying on your feet.
Steph Curry is one of the best ball handlers in the entire league. He’s no stranger to crossing guys over and making them look foolish. He’s also been known to make stars fall over (looking at you, Chris Paul).
He struck again as he dropped Williams in the Golden State Warriors’ big win. The Hornet was trailing Curry as he switched sides on the court. The point guard used a James Michael McAdoo screen to get a little bit of space. He received the pass from Draymond Green and started dribbling to the top of the key.
Williams was sprinting hard to recover on the sniper, chasing him towards the middle of the floor. Then, Curry crossed back over to his right. Williams’ mind went with him, but his body went right and, ultimately, to the hardwood.
Williams tried to get up, but he crawled a bit on all fours until he gave up. Curry stepped back towards his right and launched the three. He hopped on one foot as he watched the trey fall through the net.
Steph Curry is back. Whoever thought that the player he was during the Finals when he was dealing with a knee injury was actually him was truly mistaken. This ankle-breaking, three-point demon is the baddest dude in basketball.
Marvin Williams learned that the hard way.