Sometimes, the best team in the NBA needs luck on its side to pull through. Stephen Curry wasn’t playing and neither was Andre Iguodala. The Golden State Warriors didn’t look good, but through a crazy Draymond Green three-pointer and a big performance from Andrew Bogut, the ride towards the record keeps on rolling.
Not having Curry and Iguodala available means the team’s two best playmakers not playing. The ball doesn’t move as well. The spacing isn’t as good. Suddenly there aren’t that many open shots. Green might be an excellent passer and super smart player, but without Curry forcing an entire defense to focus on just one player, it’s a lot more difficult finding open lanes and lines for impressive passes. And still, Green was one assist shy of a triple double, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds as well.
The hero of the game is Green, as the 109-105 overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks is mostly attributed to his weird three-point shot to give the Warriors a 107-103 lead late in the game with 40.2 seconds left on the clock. A scrambled play was saved by Bogut (we’ll get to him soon), who stayed inbounds and got the ball to Green, who seemed to be off balance and did some juggling, but managed to get the shot off and hit it. The Warriors aren’t braver than other teams to try these kind of things. They’re simply exploding with confidence, which comes easily when you’re undefeated at home and have just five losses all season long.
Bogut hasn’t turned into a redundant piece like he was in the NBA Finals. The Warriors small ball might be deadly, but Bogut is playing 21.2 minutes per game, and he isn’t the only true big man on the team. He might not space the floor or hit 3-pointers, but he’s crucial on defense, and in a game with just 39.8% from the field for the Warriors, him and Harrison Barnes doing a great job on the offensive glass meant the world. He also scored 19 points and finished with the best +/- on the team (+11).
There was a disappointing piece in the puzzle, Klay Thompson. While Thompson has established himself as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA on both ends of the floor, it did feel like he was trying to do too much in the absence of Curry, resting his ankle more as a precaution than anything else. Thompson was 8-of-27 from the field, finishing with 26 points, hitting six three pointers. Their worst, the Warriors offense, which was still running its usual plays only without the best shooter of all-time involved in them, was when Thompson was a bit too involved in possessions.
The hope brewing around the league for the Warriors to show some sort of weakness has been answered. Just make sure Curry and Iguodala aren’t playing, and you have a shot at beating them, although it isn’t guaranteed. Sounds simple, right? Calling the Warriors lucky for this win reminds us of the fantastic quote by Gary Player: The harder I practice, the luckier I get.