Sharp Warriors sail past Clippers in Oracle preseason opener
Before Tuesday night’s preseason game, head coach Steve Kerr said there were no guarantees for this Warriors team. What he meant is that penciling in Golden State for a championship was foolish.
By that same token, there really are no guarantees for the Warriors. Can they go 82-0? No guarantees they can’t.
Especially not the way they played in their Oracle Arena debut, appearing to be in midseason form.
Not when you hang a near 40-piece beating on your biggest challengers in the West — in the first half. Though the final ended up getting even more out of hand at 120-75, think about this: At halftime, the Warriors were closer to scoring 100 points in the first half — 29 points — than the Clippers were to tying the game, down by 38 points.
Draymond Green said it was all about just giving more of an effort after the lackluster debut in Vancouver:
“I didn’t play with passion, and I don’t think anyone else played with passion. So we said tonight we wanted to box out, rebound and get out and run. And I think we did all those things and it was a good night for us.”
Yes, the individual stats were eye-poppingly good, Klay Thompson with 30 points on 14 shots; Durant with a 21-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist and three-block night; Stephen Curry with a whisper-like 14 points and five assists.
But what really stood out was team basketball. All eight 3-pointers the Warriors hit in the first half came on assists, and for the first three quarters, they racked up 28 assists on 32 made field goals.
Green said that the movement was something the Warriors focused on as a goal coming into the season:
“The one thing we want to be a constant is body movement and ball movement. If guys continue to move and cut, we have a lot of great shooters on the floor and we’ll get open shots.”
One rare nitpick was when the Warriors went to a two big lineup, with a non-shooting power forward alongside a center. Even when the center is a shooting threat — like David West — it shrinks the court and limits driving lanes. This doesn’t bode well for tweener players like James Michael McAdoo.
Kerr talked about McAdoo playing at the four before the game, but his lack of shooting really hurts him, making him almost unplayable. McAdoo only got eight minutes of action, and may be inching closer to the chopping block even with a guaranteed contract, as the Warriors have six or seven centers on the roster depending on how you count.
Los Angeles’ lone bright spot came from Marreese Speights, basically a Warrior, who scored 14 points in 15 minutes and was loudly cheered throughout the game.
Curry said that seeing his old buddy on the opposite side of the floor was a weird experience:
“I talked to him a little bit before the game and told him I didn’t want to see him out there being that instant microwave player and get 10 points in two minutes, and he did exactly that.”
But this game wasn’t about the Clippers, as evidenced by their 75 points.
This was merely a showcase of what the rest of the league can expect from the Warriors, because there is no guarantee that they can’t demolish a team like this during the regular season. After all, they are still tinkering with their rotations and tuning their games.
Tuesday night, Kerr subbed out KD at the six-minute mark, just like last game, but then had him return less than two minutes later to finish the quarter. And the Ultra Death lineup of Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Durant-Green saw the court for just under four minutes, though in those four minutes, they outscored LA 17-4.
What if this wasn’t just a one-time event, and actually offered a glimpse of what the entire season will look like? As Kerr said, there are no guarantees.
Kevon Looney did not play and is considered day-to-day with a left groin strain. Looney played just seven minutes in the Warriors preseason opener after finally being cleared from offseason hip surgery.
The Warriors head to San Jose for their annual SAP Center game Thursday against the Kings, before hitting the road for the next three games. Oracle had better have taken a long look, as the Dubs won’t return until the last game of the preseason, Oct. 21 vs. the Portland Trail Blazers.