For the Golden State Warriors, having to go through a close game is almost like a loss. Almost. They needed a big Stephen Curry second half and one huge Andre Iguodala three pointer to make it into overtime against the Brooklyn Nets before finishing them off for good.
Curry scored 34 points, 21 of them coming in the second half. This wasn’t one of his better shooting days, hitting just 13-of-31 from the field. Draymond Green had his second career triple double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, giving us another glimpse of why the Warriors are so good. Curry is an amazing, historic talent, but like every other great player before him, his elevation to this level is allowed by the kind of talent he has around him, even if they aren’t as heralded.
Iguodala, the Finals MVP from a few months ago, might be the embodiment of that situation. A starter for almost anybody in the league, but becoming a bench player which brought Harrison Barnes back into the lineup turned the Warriors into the best basketball team on the face of the planet. He seems to be the player the Warriors trust the most, along with Curry, during the closing minutes of games.
Iguodala sent the game into overtime thanks to his 3-pointer. Brook Lopez had a chance to win the game, but missed it. And as we’ve written a few times in the past, the Warriors might not play incredible defense for the entire game (which is impossible to do in the pace they’re trying to push to constantly), but they give these defensive crunches which leaves teams stunned and well behind by the time they recover. This is what happened in overtime: 10 straight points from the Warriors to finish with a 107-99 win.
The Warriors played without Klay Thompson who has a minor back injury, allowing Brandon Rush (remember him? Yes, he’s still on the team) to get some minutes, although the Warriors looked like a team a bit out of sync during his moments on the floor. They were at their best when it was Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the floor. Going to players who can play and guard a number of positions while forcing teams to go small has been the definitive touch of the Warriors since Steve Kerr joined, even if he’s unable to partake in the celebrations after each game this season so far.
The Nets played well because they slowed things down, which is probably the only way to make the Warriors look bad. Now that they have their first win of the season, there’s something a bit more confident and looser about their game. But as the Warriors have shown a number of times through their 11-game win streak since the season began, it takes a very bad day from them and a very special day from their opponents to bring them close to submission. No one has had the fortune and the ability combined to make it happen after almost three weeks of basketball.