The Golden State Warriors hit what felt like rock bottom in Orlando just one night before bouncing back triumphantly in Miami.
The first night of the back-to-back was probably the low point of the season. Against a tanking Orlando Magic – a team almost trying to lose, the Golden State Warriors put on a complete disaster class. Falling 94-90 losers to a team with only 10 home wins for the season.
A series of bone-headed plays and unforced errors plagued them throughout. The Warriors constantly fouled three-point shooters, shot only 40% as a team and committed 17 turnovers on the evening. After gifting the Spurs, a victory on Sunday – this was the Dubs second loss in a matter of days against a team firmly out of the playoff picture. This was rock-bottom.
Post-game, Steve Kerr gave arguably his darkest press conference of the season. Stating: ‘I know they want to win. Right now, we don’t know how.’ Whilst Draymond Green too shared his frustrations, saying: ‘We’re playing softly. We’re playing stupid. We’re just not playing good basketball. And we’re getting punked.’
The following night the Warriors would travel to Miami – to face a team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. On top of the absence of Curry, out since the week prior with a foot sprain – it was announced that Thompson and Green would too be sitting this one out.
Fresh off getting embarrassed by the team with the East’s worst record – a south-beach massacre seemed on the cards against the East’s top-seeded team. Instead, the short-handed Dubs dug deep, showed grit – and Warriors fans were treated to a Poole Party in Miami.
Jordan Poole was just magnificent on Wednesday night against the Heat. Forced to shoulder much of the offensive load in the absence of Curry and Thompson – Poole seized his opportunity and propelled the Warriors to the most unlikely victory of the season.
The performance wasn’t a flash in the pan either. Poole has knocked down the most threes in the NBA in March with 52 makes. In his last 11 games Poole has also averaged 25.6 points on 55/51/89 shooting splits and 71.1% true shooting percentage. His streak of 11 straight 20-point games saw him become only the fourth Warriors player with 11 straight games of 20+ points in the past decade.
On this evening in Miami, Poole continued his streak – finishing with 30 points, 9 assists and 7 three-pointers. Two of his triples were ridiculous logo ranged bombs, that banked in from the same left-wing corner. It was almost as if the ‘Spirit of Steph’ had kicked in for the third-year guard.
Poole’s shooting splits for the game were also 56 percent from the field, 54 from three, and 100 from the line. Though most impressive, was the way in which he effortlessly navigated double teams and executed the pick and roll in clutch time.
After Jonathan Kuminga had fouled out with just over five minutes remaining, the Warriors ran pick and roll on three straight possessions out of the timeout. Poole’s calm decision-making was on full display, as the Warriors knocked down three straight three-pointers on those possessions.
When asked about how he felt with one of the best teams in the league strategically double-teaming him as a sign of respect, Poole responded: “It’s pretty cool, for sure.”
Andrew Wiggins also came to life late and put the finishing touches on a stellar Warriors display. Wiggins finished a critical and-1 play to keep the Heat at bay late – before knocking down a dagger three to extend the Dubs lead to 13 with just over a minute remaining.
Though the night belonged to Poole, and it was him one final time who put the nail in the Miami coffin. Knocking down his seventh three from way downtown to cap off the Poole Party and seal a 118-104 Warriors victory.