The Warriors beat the Miami Heat 120-118 at Oracle Arena Sunday.
Here are my three big takeaways from the contest:
1. The Four Horsemen of the NBA Apocalypse ride again
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Every member of the Warriors’ five All-Star starting lineup finished with a negative plus-minus rating on Sunday, but make no mistake, the Big Four — Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson — were outstanding in their own ways against the Heat.
There was a big reason for that incongruence, and we’ll get to it a moment.
There was nothing confusing about Durant’s evening, though — he carried the Warriors to the finish line of the contest, making every one of the Dubs’ field goals in the final 4:05.
Durant finished with 39 points, including a massively necessary, game-tying, cold-blooded 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining in the game.
That shot was Durant’s only made 3-pointer, but he went an astounding 15-of-17 from 2 and 10-of-11 on mid-range shots in the contest. Those are numbers players in the mid-range-happy eras of decades past only could have dreamed of posting.
I’ve described Durant’s mid-range game as a zig in a league full of zags, but he called it yang to the 3-point ying Sunday. Let’s go with his verbiage, after all, it’s the same principle. It’s an important principle, too, because Durant’s mid-range mastery is the second kind of smoke the Warriors need in the playoffs.
As much as the joy of a free-flowing Curry and Green-led motion offense enthralls, every great team needs to have an unstoppable, ruthless shotmaker on their team. Durant is certainly that — and he’s efficient as all hell, to boot.
The saying in boxing is that styles make fights. The Warriors will show some strife, at times, as they try to mesh multiple styles, but the fact that they can shapeshift to fit any kind of fight is perhaps the most unfair thing about this team.
Sunday’s game was a reminder of that ability.
And it was a reminder that no one on the Warriors shape-shifts better than Durant. When he clicks in defensively, he’s arguably the best player in the NBA. What else would you call someone who is so adroit on and off the ball, in and outside of the 3-point line, on both offense and defense?
In addition to Durant’s 39, Stephen Curry chipped in 25 points, making five 3-pointers in the contest. Curry was woeful to start the game — like many Warriors, who clearly dislike the 5:30 p.m. Sunday starts, if their play in such games is any indication — but after two of the worst misses you’ll ever see from him, including an air ball on a 3, the rain started to pour.
What was most impressive about Curry’s performance on Sunday were his hustle plays and defense. Curry has somehow garnered the reputation of a one-way player, but anyone who says that going forward should be forced to watch Sunday’s game. Yes, Heat guard Josh Richardson had an outstanding 37-point, eight-3-pointer performance, that was mostly outrageous …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News