This season was supposed to be about taking a step forward if you’re the Golden State Warriors, and for that to happen they need more games like their 130-120 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, which makes everyone forget about defense while Stephen Curry has the space and freedom to show us his full range of abilities.
The playoffs, alas, work differently. The Phoenix Suns of the mid 00’s learned that very well, as run and gun basketball that doesn’t at least partially lean on defense doesn’t stand much of a chance when things get a bit slower and more serious. The Warriors have a problem with their front line, especially now that Andrew Bogut has picked up another injury that could keep him out of the entire postseason.
Curry had a huge game with 32 points and 15 assists, including 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. The pace the Minnesota Timberwolves try to push the game towards helped the Warriors, who without Bogut can’t really beat teams in grinding basketball. Their defensive strengths from earlier this season aren’t the same when both Bogut and Iguodala aren’t playing, which leaves them with only one strength to focus on, which is basically letting Curry run the show and hope for the best.
Kevin Love scored 40 points as the Timberwolves shot 53.1% from the field and 53.3% from beyond the arc. However, that kind of fast paced game also resulted in turnovers, with the team losing it 21 times, including a combined 13 from both Rubio and Love. The Warriors aren’t exactly a team known to being prone to turnovers and did lose the ball 15 times, but they made fewer mistakes than the Timberwolves did overall.
Klay Thompson helped out with 20 points, Draymond Green had 20 off the bench and David Lee had 25 points with 9 rebounds, making the most of Kevin Love being an offense-only kind of player, although the same can be said of Lee who remains a big man who thrives in the open game but is something of an Achilles heel on defense and transition defending, but might also remain their best frontcourt player now that Bogut is injured again.
These are good times for the franchise, winning 50 games for only the sixth time in its history and for the first time in over 20 years. The Warriors set the second-highest total attendance in franchise history for the season with 803,436 fans. The team sold out all 41 home games and has a streak of 79 consecutive sellouts. They’ve clinched the sixth spot in the conference which probably means facing the Clippers. Things are good, but could have been better.
Harrison Barnes is one focal point of disappointment. A mismatch creator at his best, something is turned off about him on both ends of the floor this season. A sophomore-year wall in the NBA, or simply not liking being demoted to bench player with Iguodala arriving? The Warriors need every bit of potential they have to reach fulfillment if they’re to make something of these playoffs, and not feel like they’ve taken a step backwards as a team in the 2013-14 season.