How did Golden State do with their pregame keys to victory against Toronto?
The Golden State Warriors beat the Toronto Raptors 106-105 on Sunday, in one of the weirder Warriors wins I can recall. They jumped out to a big lead. They tried frantically to give it back. They almost succeeded, and I’m still unsure as to how they failed.
On the one hand, it’s never a good sign when you almost lose a game that you comfortably led for 40 minutes. On the other hand, winning when Steph Curry had the worst shooting night of his career sounded utterly implausible two weeks ago.
Like I said: weird. So let’s revisit the keys to the game. I have a feeling they won’t quite fit.
The key: Get Pascal Siakam in foul trouble early and often.
The outcome: The Warriors did not get Siakam — who had recorded at least five fouls in five of his seven games — into foul trouble, as he had just two fouls on the game. So in that regard, they failed at this key rather miserably.
But it is worth noting that they got Chris Boucher in foul trouble. The former Warrior was the only center that Nick Nurse was willing to play, as Aron Baynes and Alex Len stayed glued to the bench. And Boucher was rather dominant — despite playing just 24 minutes, he recorded 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots.
He also fouled out.
So if I had the foresight to list this key as “get the Toronto frontcourt in foul trouble early and often,” the Warriors would be sitting with a pretty nice grade. But I flubbed that one.
Grading the key: 1 out of 10.
The key: Find rhythm with the bench unit again, on both ends of the court.
The outcome: Success. The Warriors bench unit has quietly been establishing themselves as one of the best in the league.
Eric Paschall has settled into a dynamic role as a small ball center, and continued that on Sunday with 15 points in just 19 minutes. He continued his streak of scoring in double figures with 50% or better field goal percentage in every game since moving to the bench.
Damion Lee continues to prove that he is a quality NBA player. Brad Wanamaker is finding his role and comfort level. Kent Bazemore is doing a little bit of everything. Andrew Wiggins seems comfortable as an offensive focal point with the group. And the defense is scrappy as all hell when the bench mob is on the court.
Despite the win, only one of the Warriors starters (Curry) had a positive plus-minus, while four bench players did. They proved the biggest key to victory.
Grading the key: 9 out of 10.
Bring the energy
The key: Have a high-intensity first quarter with no letdown after Friday.
The outcome: It was a very weird first quarter for the Warriors. They built up an early 10-1 lead, half because they were playing well, and half because Toronto couldn’t throw a ping pong ball in the toilet from two feet away.
Once the Warriors were unable to fully capitalize on the Raptors cold shooting, they got a little bit lethargic. But they picked up energy at the end of the quarter, and rode it to a 31-24 lead … just their third lead after the first quarter all year.
Grading the key: 7 out of 10.
Shoot the three
The key: Shoot better than 35% from beyond the arc.
Well, this one’s pretty objective. The Warriors did not shoot better than 35% from beyond the arc, as they went 13-for-46 from deep — a 28.3% clip.
Just like Curry’s struggles, the Warriors failing to shoot threes well didn’t help them win, but it did make their win that much more impressive and meaningful. If they can win shooting worse than Draymond Green’s career mark from deep, that paints a pretty picture going forward.
Speaking of Draymond, he was shockingly the best three-point shooter in the starting lineup as Curry went 1-for-10, Kelly Oubre Jr. went 1-for-6, Andrew Wiggins went 3-for-10, and James Wiseman went 0-for-1, while Green went 2-for-5.
Strange times. Strange win.
Grading the key: 2 out of 10.
But a win is a win.