It’s hard to really leave an impression in a preseason game. After all, guys have been back playing together for less than a month, neither side is really invested, the players don’t really care, they just don’t want to get hurt, and move on. It’s just not easy to impress or disappoint in a preseason contest.
Yet, the Warriors are not made for the rules that existed before this team came together, and they are definitely a team of firsts. The first team to lead in defensive efficiency and pace (2015), the first team to win 73 games, and the first team to lose the Finals after being up 3-1. And now the Warriors are the first team to really send a message in preseason.
The Golden State Warriors defeated/destroyed/annihilated/humiliated the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, 120-75, in a game that somehow, miraculously, was not that close. Golden State led by as many 53 points in the second half and dropped 71 on the Clippers in the first half. They dominated the Clippers in every phase of the game and looked like the super team they were billed as when Kevin Durant joined the Warriors on July 4.
It’s the preseason, so it is ultimately meaningless, but it doesn’t alter how jarring the result was for either team. In that spirit, and with a super serious “IT’S ONLY PRESEASON, BUT…” attached as a prefix to each, here are some takeaways from the Warriors’ win over the Clippers to improve to 1-1 in preseason play.
THE DEATH STAR IS NOW FULLY OPERATIONAL: If their first game, a dispirited loss to the Raptors, showed how Golden State could be a little muddled and it might take time for them to jell, the Warriors’ home opener dispelled that idea right off the bat. They shared the ball immaculately, they swarmed the Clippers over and over again, they rebounded with tenacity, and they pushed, pushed, pushed the ball up the court.
There were all these questions about how Durant would fit in, if he could adapt and share the ball. Well, yes, he can, and the Warriors are happy to reward him for doing so. Watch Steph Curry here reward Durant for the extra pass with his own. Also catch J.J. Redick, who feints toward Durant and then recovers to the corner to guard Klay Thompson, which leaves Durant all by himself:
There’s just so much movement with the Warriors offense. Durant screens for Curry, who loops around while Durant catches at the elbow and then Curry pops out the other side. It just leaves you shook, like Bill Paxton in Aliens:
Mr. “I’m not going to sacrifice” Klay Thompson continued to live up to his word, shooting 10 for 14 from the field for 30 points. He has been absolutely en fuego and he’s receiving a lot of the open looks as teams scramble to guard Golden State’s other three stars.
The Warriors were literally laughing at the Clippers at the end of this one, and not making much of an attempt to hide it:
As for the Clippers, there is no good news, outside of Mo Speights, who made a few shots. J.J. Redick, Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers combined to shoot 1 for 24 from the field. They were overwhelmed from the start and posed no resistance. It was preseason — so who cares — but this is the whole problem. The Warriors saw this not as a preseason game, but a chance to humiliate and defeat the Clippers. The Clippers waltzed into it and got hit by a speeding truck. That intensity matters, preseason or no.
Blake Griffin looked off. His defensive effort (despite the shellacking) was good, but offensively he looked unsure and rusty. Not unexpected after missing almost all of last season with injury, but still.
It seems more and more like the guy who’s going to have a lesser role on the Warriors is Draymond Green. Green played point and did all the usual defensive stuff, but seems to have taken a step back in terms of individual offense. He was still heavily involved, though, which is what matters.
While everyone has talked about the offense, Durant’s defense was what the Warriors hyped all summer, and it showed up big time. Durant had a pair of nasty blocks and the Warriors just throttled the Clippers offense. To put it in perspective, the Clippers had 25 made field goals. Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green combined for 23.
JaVale McGee didn’t get in until very late, and did very JaVale McGee things. He might not make the roster.
There was a lot of conversation about how the Warriors would take time to get everyone up to speed. But remember, this isn’t like LeBron James joining the Heat. There’s nothing to adapt to. The Warriors have institutional constructs in place. There’s a system, a culture, a way of life, a comfort zone, a continuity. They just added Durant to that ecosystem. Durant is a willing passer and yet the Warriors got him isolation opportunities so he would feel comfortable.
Basically, it was as close to perfect for a super team’s preseason home opener as you could imagine for Golden State, and an abject disaster for the Clippers, even if it’s easy to brush off because it’s preseason.
And finally, the Warriors led at one point by 53 points. Team USA’s largest margin of victory this summer was 57.
Courtesy: CBS Sports