Let’s go with the good news first.
The good news is that after an extremely questionable four game road trip to start the season, the Warriors finished their first home stand with a winning record (4-3) boasting impressive victories over the Blazers, Kings, Clippers and Raptors. It looked like Golden State might be one of the worst teams in the NBA during the first two weeks of the season, now they look like a team that will certainly be in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
The bad news is that they should’ve gone 5-2.
The Warriors (6-5) fell apart in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night, squandering a performance where they looked better than a very solid Pacers (7-4) team for three quarters. Ultimately, it was a 13-0 run and late threes by Myles Turner and Justin Holiday by Indiana that sealed it, the Warriors falling 104-95 at Chase Center.
The Warriors took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 31-20, shooting just 26 percent in the frame as an exhausted Stephen Curry struggled to find open looks, scoring just two points in the frame. The Pacers used the box-and-1 defense on Curry all night, and for the second game in a row, Curry’s legs appeared shot by the end. After scoring just 11 points vs. the Raptors on Sunday, Curry finished with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting. It wasn’t enough.
Second unit looks new, and worse
If the brutal fourth quarter performance sealed their fate, the writing was on the wall when the Warriors managed just 18 points in the third. This was largely due to the new look second unit that is without Eric Paschall who went on the unofficial COVID list on Tuesday. Without Paschall, who has averaged 17 points over the last five games, the group struggled with spacing and movement offensively.
Wiseman picked up most of Paschall’s minutes and struggled on both ends. Offensively Wiseman is skilled, but not seasoned enough to consistently create his own shot. This was especially true against a solid center like Turner, who blocked Wiseman’s shot four times and worked him on the offensive end, leading to five fouls that affected Wiseman’s aggressiveness as the game went on. Turner finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in 42 minutes
The plus/minus numbers for the second unit players were ugly: Wiseman (-11), Kent Bazemore (-13) Damion Lee (-14).
Oubre’s offense, Wiggins’ defense
After the mourning period for Klay Thompson’s Achilles injury subsided, the hope was that the Warriors could still be a competitive playoff team if they got above-average two-way play from their talented, if inconsistent, new young wings. The first nine games of the season showed that they’re actually pretty good when just one of them is firing, Wiggins showing impressive two-way potential while Oubre’s been mired in an historically bad shooting slump to begin his Warriors career.
Tuesday was an example of what the Warriors organization envisioned when the signed Oubre and traded for Wiggins. Wiggins scored 22 points and was 4-of-9 from deep. But it was on the defensive end where Wiggins really made his mark.
One night after his one-on-one defense vs. Pascal Siakim in the waning seconds clinched a Warriors’ victory, Wiggins was arguably even better on Tuesday. In addition to playing strong man defense, Wiggins was great off the ball and when switching, keys to success in Ron Adams’ scheme. Here’s the most prominent example.
Wiggins was everywhere on defense 🔒 pic.twitter.com/svRvxn9a39
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 13, 2021
Wiggins finished the game with five blocks and now has nine in the last two games. That ranks fifth in the NBA.
For Oubre, it’s all about the three-point shot, and on this night it was falling. Oubre hit three three’s, all in the first half and provided a solid all around floor game as he has all season. Oubre, who had by far the worst plus/minus on the Warriors heading into Tuesday’s game, was +6 on the night, only eclipsed by Kevon Looney (+13). Oubre finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and went 3-of-7 from three.
Klay Thompson in the building
Klay is BACK! Well, back at Chase Center at least. The beloved star shooting guard was in attendance behind the Warriors bench for the first time this season, since tearing his Achilles right before Warriors training camp.
Klay Thompson in the building at Chase Center for the first time this season 🙌 pic.twitter.com/cZvXpY6z3d
— KNBR (@KNBR) January 13, 2021
Klay has been around the team more frequently as of late, according to Steve Kerr. Even when he was away, Thompson was keeping close tabs on his teammates, taking to social media anytime something even somewhat notable happened.
The last two years for Thompson have been brutal, and the Warriors undoubtedly miss him on the court. Still, Klay is universally beloved by teammates and coaches alike. Having him around can only be beneficial, especially when fans are let back into the building.