OAKLAND – The Warriors, AKA Super Team, closed the preseason Friday night with the same super look exhibited in two previous games, informing the NBA that they are ready for games that matter.
For the third consecutive game, Warriors starters routed those of their opponent, this time blasting Portland starting five 80-56. Taking an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter, the reserves took over and held on for a 107-96 win at Oracle Arena.
It was a fairly simple formula. After playing some sleepy defense early, and falling behind 22-6 less than five minutes after tipoff, Steph Curry snapped awake and began putting the Blazers to sleep.
“They came out firing and we weren’t ready to play,” coach Steve Kerr said of the opening minutes.
But with back-to-back 14-point quarters, Curry almost single-handedly gave the Warriors a 57-56 halftime lead before handing the scoring baton to Kevin Durant.
Putting together a 14-point third quarter of his own, Durant powered a 22-4 run that netted an 86-65 lead with 2:03 left in the third, ending Portland’s night.
“For the most part of in the first half, it was a really good basketball game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “An understatement is the game got away from us in the third quarter. They got hot.”
On a night when Klay Thompson (9 points, 3-of-13 shooting) never found his shot, Curry and Durant combined for 63 points on 23-of-42 shooting from the field, including 13-of-21 from beyond the arc.
“We’re continuing to build chemistry and flow of where shots are going to come from and everybody (is learning) the little nuances of our offense,” Curry said. “Like when to cut, when to come off the dribble and when to screen for somebody, just based on where you are on the court. Those aren’t set play calls; it’s just organized chaos.”
That’s precisely the way Kerr wants the Warriors to play. Defend ferociously to trigger transition, run at every opportunity, take every open 3-pointer and keep the ball and the bodies moving at all times.
“I thought what changed the game was Andre (Iguodala),” Kerr said. “His stat line may not look like it, but he changed the game with his defense, started getting deflections and playing the passing lanes. I thought he and Draymond (Green) kind of picked up the intensity and got us back in the game.”
That’s the thing about the new-and-improved Warriors. They’re dangerous in a dazzling variety of ways. They use defense to disrupt and speed up the game to their liking, and they have a seemingly relentless supply of offensive weapons – with the 3-point shot being their nuclear dagger.
They made 17 treys, in 43 attempts, on Friday – while holding the Blazers to 8-of-26. Picking up the slack for Thompson was Ian Clark, who came off the bench for 17 points in 18 minutes, including three bombs from deep.
It’s not midseason, or even regular season, but it’s what Kerr and his staff hopes to see beginning with the opener on Tuesday night.
“Going 6-1 and winning the Pacific Division preseason title is a big deal; I don’t know if we’re going to hang a banner,” Kerr said, tongue in cheek. “All in all, things are coming together.
“But we still have a ways to go. We’re not there yet. But we probably shouldn’t be there yet. We’re only a few weeks into this thing. We’ll keep working.”
The Warriors may not be “there yet,” but it’s hard to imagine more preseason action would get them any closer. Bring on the regular season. They’re nothing more to prove in games that are not official.