Golden State Warriors: Four takeaways after two games against the Spurs

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 16: Kevin Durant
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 16: Kevin Durant /

The Golden State Warriors are rolling. After beating the Spurs once again to go up 2-0 in the series, they look like a totally different team from what we saw in the final month of the season. But what changed from then to now?

The “can the Warriors flip the switch?” narrative received a lot of attention leading up to the start of the NBA Playoffs over the weekend.

So far the answer has been a resounding “yes!”. After a 21 point throttling of Coach Popovich’s squad on Saturday, game two on Monday featured a competitive first half, but ultimately resulted in a 116-101 Dubs win.

So as the series shifts to San Antonio for Game Three, here are four things that changed the way the Golden State Warriors are playing – and perceived – after twice throttling the Spurs:

Changes to starting lineup:

Coach Steve Kerr inserted JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala into the starting line up into the starting line up with stalwarts Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. This unit had not played one minute together during the regular season, yet produced strong play immediately, helping the team jump off to a 28-17 lead in the first quarter of Game one, setting the tone for the series.

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Defensive improvements:

The Warriors can be an amazing offensive team, even in the absence of Stephen Curry. But the best indicator of the Warriors’ effort, energy and cohesion can be found at the defensive end of the court. One simplistic measure of defensive success is the percentage of quarters they have held the Spurs to 25 points or fewer: 75% in Game one and 50% in Game two. They trailed San Antonio at the half in Game two after surrendering 53 points, but clamped down in the second half allowing just 48. Through two games the Dubs’ defense has yet to allow a 30 point quarter.

Benching of Nick Young:

After appearing in a team high 80 games and averaging better than 17 minutes per game, Young has been demoted to garbage time minutes after the first two games had been decided, with a total of 12 minutes in the first two match ups of this series. Coupled with the decision to leave Zaza Pachulia on the bench for the first two games, Young’s reduced role gave the team a different look

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3 Point Shooting:

In the regular season the team shot 39.1% from deep and knocked down 11.3 threes per game. In making 12.5 per game in two playoff games they have upped the percentage to a seemingly unsustainable 47.2% (25 for 53). As they head on the road it will be interesting to see how The Golden State Warriors cope with the coming decline in three point shooting percentage.