OAKLAND — Waterlogged for three quarters, the Warriors finally dried off and downed the Miami Heat 107-95 Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.
Playing without Klay Thompson (rest), the offense appeared to be in a funk in the first half. Both Kevin Durant and Steph Curry were struggling to find a rhythm. It was a night the Warriors hoped to be resting their starters by the fourth quarter. Miami entered the night second to last in the Eastern Conference with an 11-28 record.
But the Heat led 54-53 at halftime and they nipped on the Warriors’ heels throughout. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Golden State was only up 85-82. A big three-pointer by Ian Clark with 5:43 left pushed the lead to 89-82 and forced Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout. Miami never regrouped. Clark finished with 10 points.
The Warriors initially strung together a powerful third quarter, led by 10 points from Durant. He finished with 28 points on 10/21 shooting; Curry ended up with 24 points on 8/21 shooting. More importantly, the defense barreled down, led by Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Miami only managed 14 points in the third quarter. Defense has and always will be the Warriors’ key to winning.
Hassan Whiteside gave the Warriors frontcourt fits (28 points on 13/17 shooting and 20 rebounds). Thankfully, Whiteside does not reside on a roster that the Warriors will have to see in the postseason, because he’s a nightmare matchup for Golden State.
In the first start of his NBA career, Patrick McCaw showed flashes of why the organization has such high hopes for the second-round pick. McCaw wasn’t much of a factor on the offensive end, but his defense was noticeable. Kerr indicated Thompson will return to the starting lineup Thursday against the Pistons.
Kevon Looney and Anderson Varejao did not see the court on Tuesday, and James Michael McAdoo played just one minute. Kerr admitted pregame he and President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers have discussed the unbalanced roster. The Warriors just have too many big men.
In the “Dog days” of the regular season, the Warriors improved to 33-6. Matchups with the Cavaliers and Thunder loom next week. But first, the Pistons on Thursday at Oracle Arena.