OAKLAND -- The veterans among the Warriors have spent much of this season imploring Pat McCaw to fully unveil, to bring to games what he so often brings to practices, and the rookie guard/forward met that request Tuesday night.
With Andre Iguodala sidelined with soreness in his left knee, acting head coach Mike Brown, following the recommendation of ailing head coach Steve Kerr, turned to McCaw to fill some of the vacuum in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs.
“Steve suggested that we put Patty in Andre's place and it made sense, especially with (Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard) not playing tonight,” Brown said. “And he stepped up and had a big game for us.”
McCaw delivered a line very much like one that might be submitted by Iguodala: a career postseason-high 18 points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds in 27 minutes. He was plus-19 as the Warriors rolled to a 136-100 win.
“He was amazing,” Stephen Curry said. “Obviously with Andre out, it was the next-man-up philosophy. Everybody says it. But when you have a guy like Pat who doesn't really know when his minutes are going to come, he always stays ready.”
McCaw has been the plug-in man for much of the season, starting at various times for Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant, whose calf injury influenced Brown/Kerr to play McCaw over four games in the first round against Portland.
With Durant back for the conference semifinals against Utah, another four-game sweep by the Warriors, McCaw played a total of nine minutes and never left the bench in Game 3.
He also didn’t leave the bench Saturday in Game 1 against the Spurs.
So the Spurs could not have known what was coming when McCaw entered with 5:06 left in the first quarter, about when Iguodala typically enters. McCaw neither shot nor scored in that quarter, but began making an offensive impact in the second quarter, hitting his first shot, a 3-pointer, and then his second, driving to the rim.
“We've all seen him shoot in practice,” Brown said. “He can shoot the ball, especially if you're going to give him time like that. He can do a lot of things offensively. Yeah, when he first came into the game, he passed a couple of shots, and I just don't think he realized that he was going to be that wide open.”
McCaw was 6-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-4 from deep, and the 21-year-old product of UNLV made all three of his free throws.
“The biggest thing for him was his aggressiveness,” Curry said. “If you get an open shot, take it. Make or miss, that's a good shot for us. Understanding the moment, when he gets the ball in his hands, just, you know, make the right decision, be aggressive, like I said, and try to make things happen.
“So he did that all game, and that was huge a huge pickup for us, obviously, with Andre out. And he'll probably get a lot more minutes down the stretch of this series, and he hopefully can continue to do the same.”
McCaw has been something of a project for Iguodala, who sees some of himself in the rookie. The two often spend extra time after practice working out together.
“I take bits and pieces from everybody’s game,” McCaw said. “So I take it as a compliment being compared to Andre. I take stuff from Andre, I take stuff from Klay and I take stuff from Draymond (Green).
“All the players on our team, I try to contribute to my own game.”
McCaw never looked better than on Tuesday night, when he came out of the shadows to light the Spurs.