The Warriors are following a path the Heat know well. A super team is formed, a super team is dynastic, a super team is disbanded.
Golden State plans to reload immediately, with all but one of its stars planning to return, at the latest, next season, when the worst team in the NBA can transform into the best.
Until then, the Warriors are learning about their youth, while Miami, finally back on its feet after the losses of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, is rebuilding on the fly, adding Jimmy Butler to a squad that has done a very nice job drafting of late.
As much excitement as Eric Paschall has ginned up in the Bay Area this year, the 41st pick in the draft looking like a surefire keeper, and as much intrigue as Ky Bowman has created, an undrafted point guard who’s ably started in six games and shown himself an NBA player, it wasn’t the Warriors’ youth putting on a show Friday.
No, it was Miami’s hidden gems — 13th-overall pick Tyler Herro, undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn and another undrafted flier, second-year forward Duncan Robinson, who impressed most in the Heat’s 122-105 victory over the Warriors at American Airlines Arena.
The start of a five-game road swing, with stops in Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago upcoming, did not start promisingly for the Warriors (4-16), who were let down most by Glenn Robinson III (three points on 0-for-10 shooting).
Golden State, always a half-step too slow, lost too many guys behind the arc, Miami firing 13-25 (52 percent) from 3. Perhaps most concerningly, every loose ball went Miami’s went, the Heat outrebounding the Warriors, 48-30.
Paschall entered the contest as the second-highest scoring rookie in the NBA, followed by Nunn and with Herro fifth. But the bulky forward was silent, held without a basket the entire first half. He was more aggressive in the second half, finishing with 17 points — 16 in the third and fourth quarters — but on 4-of-10 shooting with a single rebound and assist, and many of those points coming in garbage time.
Bowman, meanwhile, has been reduced to a bench role with Draymond Green back, and shot just 2-of-9 for seven points. Jordan Poole, ironically, was the Warriors’ best rookie, with a career-high-tying 20 points, going 5-for-6 from 3.
Miami put more display what a promising core looks like. In the first quarter it was Robinson, Poole’s old Michigan teammate, who couldn’t miss, knocking down four 3s to open a 29-10 lead in the early going. Robinson finished with 17 points on just seven attempts.
Herro, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard who’s surprisingly emerged in the rookie of the year conversation, was just as deadly from deep, scoring 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, including several deep bombs. Nunn was not as sharp, 15 points on 6-of-16, but still showed why he’s been a find.
The Warriors fought back from a 20-point second-quarter hole to cut the lead to 72-66 with 8:45 in the third. But the deeper Heat separated in the late third and fourth quarters.
At 95-79 and toward the end of the third, Steve Kerr challenged a foul on Omari Spellman, then earned a technical foul when that foul didn’t get overturned. The fight is still in him, even if the talent isn’t around.
Granted, for the Warriors, there were excuses to be had. It’s an injury-ravaged team that has little hope for this season. They spent the night in South Beach, which can get even the best off their game. Perhaps it was just too much turkey, but they slept-walk through the first half, allowing the Heat to get whatever shot they wanted — and drain them. The second quarter closed at 71-58 Miami, but only because of a 37-point second period by the Warriors, whose shooting (7-of-16 from 3) kept the game from getting laughable.
Though, it did seem to be headed toward the comedy genre. Miami jumped out to a 19-point lead in the first, led by Robinson’s shooting display. Alec Burks and Poole were the most efficient Warriors, combining for 25 first-half points on 9-of-13 shooting.
The Heat had so many more weapons to choose from, though. They played fast and slow, running past, working the ball past, and shooting over Golden State, doing whatever they wanted.