The Warriors, down Stephen Curry, were simply crushed by the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. The game rapidly turned into a blowout towards the end of the first half, and Miami’s lead became insurmountable by the middle of the third quarter. Then, the third-stringers took over.
Here’s the good and bad of the Warriors’ defeat:
Well, there aren’t a ton of positive takeaways to extract from the loss, obviously. Still, there are some smaller observations that shouldn’t be overlooked.
For one, Jarrett Jack proved that he’s capable of handling a starting role, which really should be much of a surprise. Jack had a tremendous season last year acting as the Hornets’ starting point guard. In limited minutes due to the score tonight, he scored 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
However, the Heat trapped Jack frequently. Mario Chalmers would hassle him as he crossed half court, then one of their big men would mesh him into a corner, especially early on. The result, five turnovers to Jack’s box score line.
For instance, the far from mobile Andris Biedrins tried to run a pick-and-roll with Jack, but he wasn’t looking for the ball on the roll, which caused Jack to throw the ball into a cluster of Miami defenders. Of course, Jack isn’t solely to blame. But it should be fairly obvious by now that Biedrins isn’t an appealing pick-and-roll candidate considering that he merely plays hot potato with the ball. That part is on Jack.
The main point: Jack is competent of filling in for Curry if necessary. And if Curry’s slightly tweaked ankle turns into an obstacle too big to overcome in coming weeks—like last season—then Jack will be seeing a slew of minutes.
On the defensive side of the ball, the combination of Festus Ezeli, Carl Landry and David Lee contained Chris Bosh admirably, as Bosh shot just 5-of-14 from the field en route to 14 points. With a good chunk of the attention on Lebron, Bosh, as usual, saw plenty of open looks, but the Warriors contested those attempts.
Where to start.
I guess turnovers would be a good starting point, as there were surely a lot of mental and physical errors. Actually, 19 to be exact.
Seven of those 19 turnovers came in the first quarter, which helped the Heat set the tone. Miami scored six points off the Warriors’ seven turnovers in the first, and their eight fast break points also stemmed from Golden State’s carelessness on offense.
Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers combined for eight steals. And when the Heat get a full steam ahead off steals, no one can slow them down. On Wednesday, they justified that statement.
Heck, the Warriors were fortunate to be down by only seven after one quarter. Miami wasn’t shooting the lights out, but the Warriors didn’t capitalize on Miami’s early game shooting woes. A few more buckets, and they could’ve countered Miami’s late quarter run, and also kept the momentum on their side. Instead, the Heat hung close and watched their opposition repeatedly turn the ball over.
The Heat did something they generally don’t do well—rebound the ball. They entered the game averaging just 38.3 rebounds per game, the second lowest total in the league. The Jazz manhandled them on the glass Tuesday, and the Pacers did the same a few days ago. But the Warriors, who have the sixth best total rebounding percentage in the NBA, couldn’t prevent the Heat from dominating the glass. Again, Andrew Bogut’s return seemingly couldn’t come any sooner for Golden State.
Of course, there were side effects to the Warriors’ practically nonexistent rebounding. They got jostled around in the paint, and Lebron constantly attacked the rim.
Then, we saw how the Warriors played without Curry. There was a lack of spacing, cohesion and overall confidence without their point guard. It makes you think how much they were missing last season when Curry was out of the lineup for lengthy periods of time. Now, Golden State can only hope that their budding point guard returns promptly.