By: Ben Leonard
Wednesday was Draymond Green’s birthday, and in typical fashion, he was all smiles as he led the Warriors to a 102-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Green scored 28 points for the Warriors in their 46th victory of the season, and was deadly from long range, making 4 of his 9 three-point attempts. Even after being a little weary coming home from their long six-game road trip, the Warriors showed no signs of weakness in a solid win.
This is not to say Jason Kidd’s up-and-coming Bucks rolled over; they fought hard against Golden State, using their length to win the battle on the glass. Like most teams against the small Warriors, the Bucks held the rebound advantage 47-34, led by Zaza Pachulia’s game-high 11 boards. For Golden State, win moved them to 28-7 against the deep Western Conference, and started off a series of home games on a high note.
The game was certainly well-fought and close throughout, with the “Splash Brothers” having trouble in the early going. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were held to 11-32 shooting from the floor, largely due to the fact that Kidd’s Bucks sold out to stop the dynamic duo.Curry had struggled a lot early, scoring just 7 points in the first three quarters. This game-plan left Green open to open up from long distance in place Curry and Thompson. For this reason, the Warriors found themselves up just 72-71 at the end of the third quarter.
The momentum swung in the fourth quarter, after the struggling Curry was benched after not getting back on defense with 4:18 left in the third, giving him a much needed physical and mental break. After his return at the start of the fourth, Curry and the Warriors were simply lights out. Curry made three straight three pointers with just over nine minutes to play on a poor shooting night, proving to be the difference in the game. Curry may have *only* scored 19, but his presence was certainly felt in his 12-point fourth. In fact, he was so good that he knew he made his three before it even went in.
In a post-game interview on CSNBayArea, Coach Steve Kerr credited Draymond Green as the key player in their small ball set in the fourth “because he can play the five.” It certainly worked for Golden State, who executed their small set to perfection, forcing 16 turnovers in the second half. As Kerr put it, it seems like “the whole league has shifted every game” to try to counter their successful unit.
Despite its success, the Warriors may look to break up this small unit, in that the club is rumored to be looking at embattled center JaVale McGee to provide depth, with Dallas and Miami also in the mix. Center Andrew Bogut, who scored just 7 points Wednesday, is injury-prone and McGee’s potential, if harnessed, could prove to lethal off the bench. The squad will take on one of his potential suitors, Dallas, on Friday night. Common sense might suggest that change could be more lethal to the Warriors’ clubhouse than McGee’s potential. If they continue to play like they did Wednesday in the fourth, the Warriors could be title-contenders with or without Bogut or McGee.
Writing courtesy of Ben’s work at Sports Radio Service
Cover Image: By Kent_Bazemore_speaks_at_Warriors_open_practice_with_Green,_Barnes,_and_Ezeli_in_background.jpg: Rose White derivative work: Lpdrew [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons