It was all gravy for the Warriors on the night before Thanksgiving.
Against the Clippers without stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Warriors (9-10) were in command all night. Golden State led by as much as 29 in the Chase Center.
Andrew Wiggns led Golden State with a season-high 31 points and four steals. Draymond Green (9 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) flirted with a triple-double. A revamped bench unit showed promising results for a second straight game, and Golden State dominated the paint.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ 124-107 victory.
When the Warriors’ offense is clicking, there’s no better basketball to watch.
All night, Golden State had it going. Extra passes turned good shots into better ones. Cutters constantly got rewarded. Kickouts from the paint yielded open 3s.
To head into halftime with a 19-point lead, the Warriors went on an 18-4 run. Seven of the nine buckets in that stretch came assisted.
On consecutive possessions, Curry and Green one-upped each other with flashy passes.
Curry broke down two defenders with a vicious crossover and dropped off a bounce pass to Kevon Looney inside for a dunk.
In the pick and roll, Curry countered a double team by throwing a sky-hook lob to Green inside for a layup.
Green, from the top of the key, lofted a pass over the top of LAC’s defense for a Curry reverse layup.
Curry beat Marcus Morris in an isolation and instead of forcing a shot, found Green cutting for a layup.
In the entire game, the Warriors recorded 36 assists on 48 made field goals.
It was a passing clinic, and it was gorgeous.
The second unit rotation tweak
Starting in last Sunday’s win over the Rockets, Steve Kerr consciously played Draymond Green more with the much-maligned second unit.
Green adds another playmaker, both in the half court and in transition, to free things up. That’s in addition to what he provides on the defensive end. He can really be a stabilizing force for the bench.
With Green, the Warriors can run more split action. They’re less dependent on high pick-and-rolls and Jordan Poole creating for himself.
A five of Green, Poole, Anthony Lamb, Andrew Wiggins and Donte DiViencenzo started the second quarter on a 10-3 run. The Clippers punched back, but the bench still expanded Golden State’s lead, more than surviving the non-Steph minutes.
By padding the lead, the bench allowed Golden State’s starters to return well-rested. With the momentum, they went on the game-breaking blitz to end the first half.
That same group started the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run by playing 2-3 zone and pushing the pace.
The rotation tweak also allows Jonathan Kuminga to play more with Curry. In that environment, he can thrive more as a screener, offensive rebounder, slasher. Kuminga could probably average 20 points per game if given his own team to feature on, but on this roster, he’s currently best suited as an energy booster.
All year, GSW’s bench has gotten killed. Green’s presence could start to reverse that trend.
A sneaky act of Curry unselfishness
In the ESPN game prior to Warriors-Clippers, the Celtics dispatched the Mavericks, 125-112. Stars Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic battled, showing why they — along with Curry — rank atop the early-season MVP candidates.
Almost every possession in that game for the Mavericks, Doncic brought the ball up the court. Whenever a Maverick hauled in a defensive rebound, they looked up to outlet to Doncic. After a make, Doncic came back for the ball. Almost without fault, he dribbled across halfcourt and initiated their offense.
Doncic is far from the only superstar to demand the ball; him playing on the same night just provides an easy juxtaposition to what Curry and the Warriors do, and have done for years.
Any Warrior, with the exception of Kevon Looney, has liberty to take the ball up.
The contrast in principle has benefits. On a basic level, it’s an easy way for more players to touch the ball and feel involved. It also helps the flow of the offense by constantly giving opponents different looks.
One play, Draymond Green took the inbound after a made Amir Coffey layup. He pushed after the make and found Curry streaking behind the defense for a wide open layup. That play took both Curry out-hustling the Clippers and Golden State’s willingness to spread the ball-handling love around for it to happen.
On and off the court, Curry remains the premier unselfish superstar.