Once again, a basketball-heavy night with not much in the way of other sports, and that’s about how it’ll go most of the time until bowl season starts up and/or the NHL comes back. But there were a ton of NBA games, so let’s take a look at what went down.
Watch out for the Warriors.
During the offseason, a the Warriors retooled, at least a few NBA scribes took a look at the Warriors’ roster and said, essentially, “That’s a good team.” I wondered if it was the same optimism that surrounds nearly every team every offseason, when there are no games to lose. I looked at the Western Conference and wondered how this team, improved as it might be, could possibly sneak into the playoffs. And that’s not even factoring in the injury concerns we noted in our Warriors preview.
Then the games started. And undeniably, these Warriors are a good team. If you didn’t notice before, you do now following a 97-95 win over the Heat in Miami last night. Rookie Draymond Green’s last-second heroics (and LeBron’s last-ditch misfire) are getting the lion’s share of the attention, but the Warriors’ outstanding performance both in this game and in general (it was their fifth straight win, all of them on the road) deserve notice. Golden State is 15-7 now, they’ve got a signature win… and all while hardly getting anything from Andrew Bogut all season so far. Yeah, it’s early, etc., etc., but these guys look like the real deal.
This wasn’t a case of the Heat having an off night, either: LeBron said afterward that they played well, but the Warriors “made one more play.” Making one more play than the Heat – especially in Miami, where they were 10-1 prior to last night – is nothing to sneeze at, even though this Heat squad has been up and down so far this year. It took a while, but I’m a Warrior believer. I guess I should post this now.
Elsewhere around the Association…
The Heat weren’t the only top team to lose. The Spurs, who entered last night’s game against the Jazz at 18-4, succumbed 99-96, also thanks to some last-second shotmaking – in this case, a three from Mo Williams. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson had their way with the Spurs’ frontcourt, combining for 45 points on 20-for-33 shooting, and Gordon Hayward continued to cement a legacy as more than the guy who almost made the greatest shot in college basketball history/plays StarCraft a lot with 19 points (4-for-6 from three), seven rebounds, and six assists. And though the Spurs lost, we can’t get over Tim Duncan’s stat line: 22 points, 21 boards, six blocks. The man does not age.
Not all the title favorites lost, though: the Thunder held off a game Hornets team 92-88 thanks to 35 points from the Kevin Durant (who, scarily enough, continues to get even better), while the Clippers bested the Bobcats 100-94. It was a game of streaking teams going in opposite directions – the result marked Clippers’ eighth straight win, and Charlotte’s ninth straight loss. The perils of being a young team, we suppose.
Additionally, the Nets snapped a losing skid of their own with the best medicine for a struggling NBA team – a date with the Raptors. Brooklyn won 94-88. And the Magic continued to scratch and claw, but didn’t have enough offense to beat the Hawks, falling 86-80. (Still <3 you and the job you're doing there, Jacque Vaughn.)
Finally, the games I don’t have much of anything to say about:
Pacers beat the Cavs 96-81. Cleveland scored 23 second-half points. That’s bad. (Analysis!) Bulls beat the Sixers 96-89. Celtics held of the Mavs 117-115 in double OT. Rajon Rondo almost had a triple double because Rajon Rondo always almost has a triple double. Bucks beat the Kings 98-85. The Rockets beat a Wizards team that continues to pile up close losses (11th by single digits this season) 99-93. The T-Wolves held off the Nuggets 108-105 despite 3-for-17 shooting from Kevin Love (think that hand’s at full strength yet?). And the Suns beat the Grizzlies somehow, 82-80. There you have it. Caught up. Happy Thursday. Live it up. But not as much as you would on a Friday, because, you know, work tomorrow and everything.
Photos via Getty