© Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
The Warriors had absolutely no business beating the Heat on Wednesday night. Not with Draymond Green as a late scratch, and still sans-James Wiseman and Kevon Looney; especially not with Bam Adebayo on the other side.
But the same Heat team that made the NBA Finals last year seems to be a shell of itself and let Golden State linger for far longer than they had any right to. This was a case of bad versus worse. And the Heat were worse. Stunningly so. They showed absolutely no interest in winning.
And by the end of it, despite every sign to the contrary, the Warriors won, 120-112.
How did they win this game? Everyone else
There’s no logical explanation for Wednesday other than the Heat are mojo-less. Actually, let’s blame the eye bleach jerseys. Sorry, 12-year-olds, the Miami Vice theme has gone too far.
The other explanation for the win is that everyone else besides Curry was stellar. Well, stellar might be a little much. They were pretty good. And again, the Heat were awful. So pretty good cut it.
It also helped (massively) that Adebayo was a total non-factor. He picked up his fourth foul with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. He picked up his fifth foul with 8:13 remaining in the fourth.
There were three other players besides curry who had 20-plus points, not including Eric Paschall, who also had an effective night of 11 points and 7 rebounds:
- Kent Bazemore: His team-leading 26 points were his highest since April 2019. Also tallied 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
- Kelly Oubre: 23 points (9-of-15, 4-of-7 from 3-pt), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
- Andrew Wiggins: 23 points (8-of-16, 4-of-9 from 3-pt), 8 rebounds, 6 turnovers
Bazemore looked like he was playing at your local YMCA by bricking that layup, only to follow it up with a pair of massive back-to-back scores. It was so typical of this atypical, absolutely hammered game.
And then, of course, Curry hit a three, his fourth of the night, to put the Warriors up by three, then hit Andrew Wiggins for another three to put the Warriors up six.
Of course, Duncan Robinson hit a three to make it a three-point game with 32.6 seconds remaining.
But Stephen Curry on his worst night is still Stephen Curry.
Overtime dagger. Just like you drew it up.
— KNBR (@KNBR) February 18, 2021
This was absolutely punch drunk basketball at it’s best. Both teams were playing at a rec league level, and the longer it got, the worse it got, and the more entertaining it was. No one had a plan. No one had a clue.
It was glorious in its absurdity, and somehow, the Warriors turned that nonsense into a three-game cushion above .500. One last explanation is that this was a against an Eastern Conference team; an Eastern Conference which has just four teams with a winning record, and in which the Warriors would currently be fourth.
Curry comes crashing back to Earth, but remembers who he is when it matters
This was as human as Stephen Curry has looked in a long time. This was his worst performance since that ugly January 10 performance against the Raptors, a game which the Warriors somehow won. They won despite Curry putting up 11 points on 2-of-16 shooting, 1-of-10 from three with 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 turnovers.
He did not have it Wednesday.
The Warriors trailed 103-101 with less than two minutes to go. Curry had the ball, drove, and, as was the case all game, missed.
He didn’t have it… until he did. Curry was woeful. He went 8-of-25 and 5-of-20 from three. But by the end of it, he finished with 25 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
He didn’t have it until he absolutely had to have it. Until it seemed like the basketball gods were prolonging the game, demanding that Curry remember that he is in fact, Stephen Curry. And in overtime, when it had to be him, it was.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 18, 2021
Dagger. A nonsensical, shouldn’t-ever-have-happened dagger.
No Draymond, yeah… some problems
This is not a team that could afford another injury, let alone to the man cog in their system. No Draymond Green will do that to this Warriors team. Against most teams, this performance would not have cut it.
Without Green, the whole flow of the Warriors’ offense came to a screeching halt. It’s no coincidence that Curry’s first truly poor game since a 2-for-16, 11-point game against Toronto in January came without Green in the lineup.
His omnipresence and efficacious processing of the game, acting as what the Germans would call a raumdeuter, or “space intepreter,” is not replaceable. Not much about what Green does can be replicated, and it’s a reminder of what his injury scare against the Nets pointed out; without Green, this team will struggle. As much as this is clearly Curry’s team, Green is that rudder, almost always steering the Warriors in the right direction.