After an ugly shooting performance cost the Golden State Warriors what should have been an easy win in Sacramento on Monday, the Dubs got right against Kyrie Irving’s Cleveland Cavaliers last night. Golden State jumped out to a monster first-quarter lead before coasting to a 106-96 win.
The Fate of a Jump-Shooting Team
In what’s becoming the story of the season, the Warriors were good when they hit jumpers and went into mini-lulls throughout the game when they cooled off. That type of inconsistency is part of the DNA of a jump-shooting team, and short of a personnel overhaul, there’s very little Golden State can do about it. It’ll mean the Warriors will lose games they should win (like the Kings game) and win games they should lose (like the Clippers game) on the presence or absence of their shooting strokes.
Don’t misunderstand, though. The Warriors generally have issues with their offense when their outside shooting cools off. But against Cleveland, which played without Anderson Varejao, the paint was unusually accessible—that made it easier for the Dubs to weather some of their cold spells.
Carl Landry dominated in the mid and low post again, scoring 19 points on just 10 shots. Harrison Barnes again showed his importance to a team that lacks a post-up wing and legitimate slasher. Barnes has a nice stroke, but it’s become abundantly clear that he needs to fill in the team’s gaps on the block and as a driver. It’s convenient that those are his most effective uses. He’s been wildly inconsistent, but competes hard on defense (when he doesn’t get lost) and seems to be recognizing when he has a size advantage.
Credit is also owed to Mark Jackson for immediately posting up Barnes when the much small Daniel Gibson was matched up on him.
Mixed Bag for Bogut
Andrew Bogut didn’t score against Cleveland in his 17 minutes on the floor, but he did hand out five assists—some of which were fairly flashy. It was good to see the offense run through the big man, as it took some pressure off Stephen Curry, who has to work incredibly hard to initiate the offense because of his lack of strength with the ball.
But Bogut did look hesitant and downright floor-bound in his time on the court. Curry threw him a good lob that he simply couldn’t elevate to dunk. Instead, he suffered a dreaded rim-check and kicked the ball back out.
Bogut certainly looked better than he did in his grimace-fest in Sacramento, and he still dominates on the defensive end (three charges drawn), but he’s got a ways to go before he’ll be able to consistently affect that game in the scoring column.
This isn’t news. Kyrie Irving is really all the Cavs have going for them (I’m not a Dion Waiters believer yet), and some nights, he’ll be all they need. It’s impossible to stay in front of him in one-on-one situations, and when he gets a pick, you can forget about keeping him out of the lane. Despite being the Warriors’ sole defensive focus, Irving still put up 28 points and seven assists (against just three turnovers) on 10-of-22 shooting. More than that, his penchant for taking over fourth quarters left me (and presumably, other Warriors fans) positively terrified that he’d flip the switch and commandeer the game. He’s as good a young player as there is in the league.
The Warriors have a rough back-to-back set this Friday and Saturday against the reeling Los Angeles Lakers (off to the worst start since 1993-94) and the surprisingly not great Denver Nuggets. Here’s hoping the Lakers don’t fire Mike Brown before Friday and the Nuggets continue to search for the form that made them preseason sleeper favorites in the Western conference.
Mini prediction: Watch for Klay Thompson, who is missing shots by the narrowest of margins lately, to have a big one in L.A. as he returns to his hometown.