ORACLE ARENA — Preseason is over, and the time for experimentation has come to a close.
Players have been cut and before the Warriors start the regular season on Wednesday, lineups will be locked and rotations decided. But right now, nothing is set in stone — sort of.
Prior to Friday’s game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said something that made watching Golden State beat Denver more important than any other preseason game:
“As far as tonight, this will be more like what we will see next week with our rotations. Younger guys probably won’t get a whole lot of time.”
And the younger guys didn’t play much. The exception to that was summer and preseason standout Justin Holiday.
The fight for the final spot on the Warriors roster looked pretty one-sided as Golden State closed out the Nuggets 119-112 in their preseason finale, especially with Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush sidelined for the moment..
Then, shortly after the game Friday it was made official. Holiday was named to the final spot on the Warriors 2014-15 roster.
Holiday started the second quarter and played nearly two-thirds of the quarter including time with the starting unit. He shined once again.
In a beautiful back-to-back offensive sequence Holiday finished a high-flying alley-oop then sank a pull-up trey, both times assisted by Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala, who played with Holiday’s brother Jrue in Philadelphia, noted similarities between the two and told SFBay, the one thing that sticks out about Holiday is his knowledge of the game:
“He can run every play forward and backward, so he and I can interchange a lot and he knows how to do it within the play without being confused. We just mesh really well and he’s a hard worker. Just really happy for the last few games that he’s had.”
Not only did the other young guys get very little playing time, they got zero playing time. But Holiday returned late in the third quarter and finished the game with eight points in 15 minutes of play.
What else can be taken from the preseason finale? Harrison Barnes might officially be back in the starting lineup.
On Oct. 12, Kerr put Barnes in with the starting unit and Iguodala in the position of leading the second unit.
Since then, Kerr has expressed how much he loves having Iguodala work as a facilitator with the bench and also how much he likes the pairing of Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa:
“I’ve played the two of them off the bench in three games, together as a tandem. If I’m not mistaken in that span, Andre has 19 assists and zero turnovers and L.B. is getting 10, 12, 14 points while that’s going on. They’re a really nice combination to watch.”
That’s exactly what happened against Denver. Barnes started, Iguodala came off the bench for six points, seven assists and zero turnovers, Barbosa scored 15, and the Warriors finished their preseason with a 6-2 record.
And all the talk from Kerr over the last couple months about ball movement and picking up the pace seems to be working for Golden State. The Warriors finished the night with 35 of their 44 made shots assisted, and outscored the Nuggets 22 to 18 in fast break points.
We’ll have some real answers in the next few days about rotation and the starting unit, but in the mean time, here’s one certainty — the Warriors kick off the season in Sacramento on Wednesday then return for the regular season home opener on Saturday Nov. 1 against the Lakers.
Following Friday’s game the Warriors waived Jason Kapono, Aaron Craft, Sean Kilpatrick, Mitchell Watt, and James Michael McAdoo. … Golden State finished with 35 assists on 44 field goals, tying and NBA preseason record, while Denver managed 21 assists on 42 made field goals. … Klay Thompson finished with a game-high 35 points, matching Blake Griffin’s 2014 preseason-high, for the Warriors’ first 30-point performance of the preseason. … Stephen Curry tallied a double-double with 17 points and 11 assists on his bobble head night, which commemorated his 2013-14 All-NBA Second Team selection.