Kevin Durant scored 28 factors, Stephen Curry heated up within the fourth quarter and scored 24, Andre Iguodala knocked down all three of his 3-point area aim makes an attempt and the Warriors pulled away from a plucky Jazz crew to win their remaining residence sport earlier than the All-Star break 115-108.
Right here had been my three large takeaways from the Warriors’ 16th win of their final 17 video games:
There’s just one Draymond Inexperienced
If Draymond Inexperienced wins the NBA’s Defensive Participant of the Yr Award in June (or is it July? I don’t know when the NBA’s contrived and unwatchable season-ending awards present is), it is likely to be due to Tuesday’s sport.
In fact, one sport doesn’t win a DPOY, however it could possibly make a giant impression, and in a contest the place the reigning award winner, Rudy Gobert took on the 2017 winner, Inexperienced, there was no query that it was the latter who was higher at their craft.
Inexperienced stays probably the most versatile defender in an NBA that values defensive versatility, however to this point this marketing campaign, he has solely proven that brilliance in spurts.
As of late, although, he’s been combining these spurts into stretches. And on Tuesday, that stretch appeared to final a complete sport.
Inexperienced was in all places towards the Jazz. Inside or out, he was indomitable. His help-side protection — the trademark of a fantastic Inexperienced defensive efficiency — was otherworldly, as he was beating Jazz gamers to spots all night time, and if the ball was moved earlier than they reached Inexperienced, in some way the Warriors ahead was capable of be in place to cease that different participant, too. He was like Nightcrawler from X-Males, teleporting from one spot on the courtroom to a different with close to instantaneousness.
Like Gobert, a peaking Inexperienced modifications all the crew protection in entrance of him. His defensive genius lined up the nonetheless obvious susceptibility of DeMarcus Cousins towards the pick-and-roll on Tuesday (Boogie completed with the perfect defenisve score amongst all starters), whereas his capacity to be the protection’s free security, surveying every little thing in entrance of him, allowed Stephen Curry (4 steals) and Klay Thompson to play aggressive on-ball protection on the perimeter — they knew that Inexperienced had them backed up.
However in contrast to Gobert, Inexperienced also can make performs on the perimeter — he doesn’t have to slag off on protection towards smaller gamers, he can guard them one-on-one.
Who else within the NBA can adroitly guard one via 5 at this stage? Nobody, should you ask me.
There’s no query in my thoughts that Inexperienced is the perfect defender within the NBA. I’ve argued that he’s the trendy day Invoice Russell — name it hyperbolic should you should, however I stand by it. To win DPOY, although, Inexperienced might want to string collectively a minimum of 20-plus video games like Tuesday’s down the stretch. And given the age we reside in, he’ll want some viral advertising and marketing alongside the way in which, too. That’s merely the truth of the state of affairs: Given his injury-laden, less-than-stellar begin to the season, Inexperienced has floor to make up on the pack (Gobert, Paul George, and Joel Embiid) — however seeing as there isn’t any frontrunner for the award, there’s no purpose to put in writing No. 23 out of the working simply but.
And if he retains enjoying like he performed on Tuesday, it’d be a travesty if he didn’t win the award. Sure, even with solely a 3rd of a season of excellence.
A sport to circle on the calendar: March 16. Inexperienced proved some extent towards Gobert on Tuesday. However a bit of greater than a month from now, the Thunder and George will host the Warriors. That sport was already must-see TV, however I’ve a sense that we’ll see one thing actually particular from Inexperienced in that contest.
Klay Thompson is making his case for accolades, too
Let’s maintain speaking about everybody’s favourite topic: protection.
Klay Thompson turned in one other super two-way efficiency on Tuesday, along with his protection in some way surpassing his 22-point, 64-percent-shooting offensive night time.
Thompson’s most important mark for a lot of the night time was Utah’s precocious second-year guard Donovan Mitchell. The runner-up for final yr’s Rookie of the Yr carries a heavy load for the Jazz, as he’s the one participant on the crew who can each create his personal shot and make it.
Mitchell went 10-of-29 from the sphere. Add up every little thing and he had a woeful true taking pictures proportion of 41.
The NBA not offers these stats after video games, however of these 10 made area objectives, I’d wager that almost all got here when Thompson wasn’t really guarding Mitchell.
Yeah, Klay had a fantastic defensive night time. That’s changing into the norm. Put this man on an NBA All-Protection crew this summer season.
It’s additionally value noting that Thompson performed regardless of doing this to his finger within the first quarter.
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) February 13, 2019
Yeah, this man is as robust as nails.
DeMarcus Cousins is breaking stereotypes
Cousins is likely to be a lame duck in pick-and-roll protection, however damned if he isn’t making an attempt his finest in the mean time. This is likely to be the primary time anybody has mentioned this about Cousins in his skilled profession, however you merely can not knock the massive man’s hustle.
Cousins’ knock in Sacramento and New Orleans was that he was gifted however disinterested. When he was on, he was among the finest gamers within the NBA, however when he was off… properly, there’s a purpose he’s with the Warriors and it’s not solely as a result of he injured his Achilles tendon.
His sport remains to be a piece in progress — there are tarps and sawdust in all places — and it’s anybody’s guess as to what the completed product will seem like (if the Warriors even see a completed product). But when Cousins does, actually, break via a conditioning wall within the coming weeks, look out. An engaged Boogie is an unstoppable Boogie and there are many causes to consider that in some unspecified time in the future this season, we’ll see a mesh level of effort and expertise.