Golden State Warriors carried a different persona and atmosphere of themselves into the Portland game that helped them break out of their 4-game losing streak.
Unlike the 4-game losing streak, there was an even balance of contribution and an all-around team effort of the Warriors in the Trail Blazers game. In the Portland game, there were individual accomplishments and highlights from the two remaining all-stars on the roster, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, combining with a total effort of 63 points out of 125 points total from the team. There were a lot more passes going around instead of the individual isolation-plays and hero-plays coming from the two all-stars. The Warriors recorded 29 assists in this game, which is nothing like what the fans saw from the 4-game losing streak, which only saw a team-high of 24 assists in the winless streak. With this kind of ball movement, it allows players to create space for themselves, while highlighting or showcasing individual skills. Shaun Livingston, who averages 5 points, recorded 11 points from the bench unit, and Quinn Cook, who is inserted into the lineup to replace the injured Steph Curry, scored 19 points, making 5 out of 8 three point field goals attempted.
Pace of the Game
The Golden State Warriors have been monstrous in the pace of the Portland game, completely dictating the tempo. In the four-game losing streak, the Warriors recorded one of the slowest tempos in the league, dribbling the ball up the court and taking their time. However, in this game, immediately when someone grabs a board, the player throws an outlet pass to someone already at half-court pushing the offense and flow of the game. The Warriors have been active and effective, scoring and attacking on transition offense, not allowing the opposing team to react or reset their defenses on time. Some of their plays on offense took less than 10 seconds, and it left the other team scrambling and struggling to switch on rotations. In two of the highlights of the game, Quinn Cook lobbed an alley-oop pass to Kevin Durant who dunked the ball over Jusuf Nurkic, and then immediately the next play, Kevin Durant drove down the lane and drilled a dunk over Nurkic again, forcing him to commit the foul. If the Warriors keep this tempo up, they will be on a scoring tear, especially since it favors them in the small-ball lineup.
The Warriors appear to have active hands on defense, which is opposite of what fans saw from their performance in the 4-game losing streak. During their losing streak, the Warriors averaged approximately 5 blocks and around 4 steals per game. Only recently, in the Thunder game did the Warriors got double-digit in blocks. However, despite getting 14 turnovers, the Warriors were making impressive defensive stops on that end, bringing in a different type of urgency and energy on that side of the floor. Overall, the team had double-digits in both steals and blocks, with 4 different players having at least 2 blocks and 4 different players having 2 steals. By forcing the other team to create turnovers, the Warriors are not only taking opportunities away from them to score, but also opening new avenues for them to score on fast-break transition offense. This allows the Warriors to have more opportunities to strike at them. In addition, the Warriors have been active on defensive boards, grabbing 36 rebounds, to prohibit the other team from having more chances to score on the offensive drive. If the Warriors can get down and lock down on defense, the Warriors will be on a comfortable place in shutting the other team while giving them a chance to score more on offense.
The Warriors must continue to practice these skills if they want to avoid suffering from their recent struggles or losses in the league.
Featured Image via Flickr/Antonio Fucito