The luster has worn all the way off of the Cavaliers-Warriors matchup. What was once reserved for late June is now relegated to a nearly meaningless game in the final week of the regular season.
But while the stakes are no longer there, the Warriors (55-24) still take pleasure in beating Cleveland (19-61). Especially Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, who led the way to a 120-114 victory Friday at Oracle Arena.
Curry paced the Warriors with 40 points on an effortless 9-of-12 night from deep, while Green showed the most offensive aggression he has all year, lasering in a season-high 20 points and had three 3’s.
Steve Kerr said the scoring is really just an added bonus to Green’s game:
“It’s great, he does so many other things for us, that we don’t need him to score. But when he does, it’s gravy. People play us a certain way when he’s on the floor, and they’ll generally play off him, so if he can knock down some 3’s, it’s great.”
Curry may have been the one to bust out of his shooting slump thanks to improved eyesight, but Green has done the same — just without the help of contact lenses.
Since the All-Star break, a 21-game span, Green is shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc, and taking them with more and more confidence.
He said the improved stroke has more to do with his health and nothing mechanical:
“Earlier in the season, I just didn’t feel good. My body was rough, it was hurting. From the toe to the knee, all those things take a toll on you. I feel as good as I felt over the last few weeks in a long time. And you know, that makes a difference.”
And when Green is hitting 3’s, it is nearly impossible to stop the Warriors offense. Which is also it’s kryptonite.
Because when things are too easy, like they were in the first half when Golden State led by 19 and had been picking apart the Cavs defense at will, that’s when the turnovers start to pile up.
As is normally the case with this Golden State club, complacency sets in when nothing is there to push back.
Kerr said it was all about the number of possessions:
“Turnovers and offensive boards. They had about 17 or 18 more possessions in the game than we did. It’s kind of our specialty, we like to give other teams an advantage and then have to shoot our way out of it.”
The bench unit failed to create any kind of resistance and let the lead continuously slip away, all the way down to three points with just under three minutes to go.
A win still never felt in danger of slipping away completely though, and a succession of Kevin Durant and Curry jumpers clinched the win.
Curry said, despite the win it’s tough to see the team struggle in areas upon which they are supposed to focus:
“It’s not a great feeling when you’re out there playing, trying to win basketball games, when the two things you talk about, controlling the possession game, and what it takes to get that done and you’re not doing it.”
But it did take all four All-Stars, each playing 36 or more minutes. Not the best outcome for a team on the back-end of a back-to-back, and definitely not when they had the game in the bag early.
Quinn Cook continued to lead the second unit, as he has consistently of late, with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Aside from him, the Warriors got just 14 points from the rest of their bench.
While Cleveland got 41 total points from their bench unit, which was almost the difference in the game.
But in the end, the talent margin was just too big for the Warriors to fail.
The Warriors will play their last regular season game at Oracle Arena Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nick Young received his championship ring before the game Friday. The ceremony, which ran long, got the Warriors a delay of game warning. Young is currently a free agent, after playing for the Denver Nuggets for just four games earlier this season.