By: Colby Chang
Tonight, two powerhouses of their respective divisions faced off in an epic match, potentially foreshadowing a NBA Finals series. The Hawks have been wreaking havoc in the East but have fared even better against their Western playoff team opponents. The Warriors, on the other hand, have also been making their case to be the favorites in the West with strong performances from both their starting lineup and bench. Both teams were missing key shooting guards, the Hawks losing Kyle Korver to a broken nose and Golden State lacking Klay Thompson due to a bum ankle.
The first quarter saw a couple nice performances from certain players, especially Jeff Teague and Harrison Barnes. Teague snagged more than a few steals and came out shooting particularly well, while Harrison Barnes nailed a three pointer and a few rim-shaking dunks. The Warriors capitalized on what they do best, sinking 50% of their eight three point attempts. The Hawks were only able to hit one due to the stifling perimeter defense of the Dubs. The Warriors ended up on top by four, 28-24 at the buzzer.
The second quarter was similar to the first, with the Warriors keeping up their solid performance and strong defense. The Hawks were particularly weak in the interior, going 1-8 due to Andrew Bogut’s intimidating presence. They settled for some unreliable jumpers and awkward shots instead. Although Bogut himself scored 0 points (and gave up 4/11 of the team’s total turnovers), his 10 rebounds (8 defensive) and his defense made up for his otherwise detrimental performance. Andre Igoudala had a strong dunk in the quarter, scoring an impressive 11 points in the half. The Warriors extended their four point lead by another eight points, leading by 12 at the half. They took advantage of all their field goal attempts, hitting a scorching 59% compared to Atlanta’s lackluster 34%. Another factor in the Warriors’ dominance was their overwhelming team play, with 20 assists, doubling the Hawks’ total. The half ended at 59-47 with the Warriors holding a comfortable lead.
Throughout this whole game, Golden State only got better and better. They bullied the Hawks inside and had some nice combinations leading to open three pointers, which they sunk. The key to the third quarter, however, was defense. Neither team was particularly dominant on offense, but the Warriors’ stingy defense kept the Hawks to a meager 17 points. They missed jumper after jumper and gave up a huge stream of turnovers which translated into easy points for the Dubs. The Warriors extended their 12 point lead to 19, leading 83-64.
The fourth quarter saw a few ups and downs for the Warriors, whom at one point were up by almost 30 points. The Hawks attempted to surge back and went on a 9-0 run to cut the Warriors lead to 20, but those 20 points proved too much for the Hawks to overcome in what little time they had left. The Warriors can call this game a success, as a decisive win against a fellow super team can only be a sign of good things to come.
Key Contributors: Nobody on the Hawks was able to break 16 points, whereas the Warriors had four players with at least that many points. Draymond Green was on fire from three, going 5-7 and adding a cool seven rebounds to that stat line. Both Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala simply could not miss tonight, shooting a ridiculous combined 20-25 for 46 points.