© Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Whatever the Warriors were doing in the first half, they quickly forgot about in the second. That second half team looked as competitive as this version of the Warriors can rightfully be expected to be. And then, they laid it all to waste in a last-second collapse.
This was a loss that should have been defined by those less-than-predictable young wings; Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre. It’s on nights like these when Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are provided consistent support from that duo in key moments down the stretch that the Warriors almost seems to have an identity.
But Wiggins failed in a key moment, and a couple other Warriors did too, culminating in a 110-107 loss to the Wizards.
It was a real sight to behold. Andrew Wiggins was playing bona fide lockdown defense on Bradley Beal. He’s been extraordinarily active defensively this season and playing intelligently; using his length and strength to challenge opponents visually and work the passing lanes without fouling.
That was highlighted at the start of the fourth quarter, as Wiggins cut through a passing lane, charged down court on a fast break and slipped a wraparound pass behind the back of his defender to Jordan Poole.
It’s this Wiggins that we yearn to see more often; the hyper-aggressive defender, looking to actively get himself and his teammates involved down the stretch of the game. He wasn’t the 20-ish point per game scorer that he often is, but this was much more preferable to those nights when he has empty points.
The 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals that Wiggins had don’t do it justice; he was omnipresent (though he did miss a pair of key free throws in the final four minutes that were absolutely killer, so, yikes).
Okay, let’s just put a caveat here. This was all written before Wiggins chocked the two free throws and then lost the game by fouling Bradley Beal on a four-point play. But he did truly play well… except for, ya know, those two absolutely key moments. So, do that calculation how you will.
Meanwhile, Kelly Oubre was the offensive yin to Wiggins’ yang, scoring efficiently, largely off open threes created from those typical Curry and Green drives followed by kick outs.
Oubre (23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 4-of-8 from three, with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal) was the consistent scorer the Warriors absolutely need without being reckless. He fouled and turned the ball over just once each, while playing the solid man defense he’s shown all year.
A much more efficient game from James Wiseman
There was a great article written about three simple things the Warriors can do to salvage James Wiseman’s season. The list (though you should give the article a read), is effectively as follows:
- Limit who’s giving Wiseman input; let one coach act as the “Wiseman whisperer”
- Simplify things for Wiseman, keep him focused on the simple things like lops, screens, and smart defense
- Encourage him to play simple defense, and accept when it doesn’t work, rather than fouling in an effort to stop everything
We can’t speak to the first one, but it’s clear Wiseman played a much simpler game; he was largely a screen-and-roller and caught a handful of lobs for easy points. As that began to roll, it’s clear Wiseman’s confidence ticked up as the game went on.
He started to grow into the game, hitting a few mid-range jumpers and a couple of post fadeaways. But it was all within the rhythm of the game, and not the over-the-top, forced post-ups that Wiseman will certainly be able to pull off in the future, but has yet to master.
While his four fouls are still more than the Warriors will hope for going forward, it wasn’t a flurry of brutal, quick fouls that sent him to the bench like we’ve seen in the past. He finished with 18 points (9-of-11 shooting), 6 rebounds and one assist.
Should have been a second-straight late win
It almost, almost felt like the Warriors were building some momentum. And then, well, man. They blew it. You can’t really blow it many ways that are more embarrassing. Yes, blowing a massive lead, which the Warriors never had, is worse.
But this was on track to be an impressive comeback win. The Warriors seemed like they’d earned it in the second half. Instead, Russell Westbrook bricked a three-pointer, the ball caromed to Bradley Beal, and instead of letting him getting the shot off, or contesting without fouling, Wiggins, who’d had such an encouraging game, hit him on the head for a go-ahead four-point play.
— NBA (@NBA) April 10, 2021
Up three with 13 seconds left. Now down one with about 6 seconds remaining.
But then there was a chance to go ahead, as Damion Lee was fed, driving down the lane. He went up and… passed out of a shot. Instead of trying to draw a foul, or shooting, Lee bailed, to the chagrin of himself and every Warriors player on the court. He passed out of a potential game-winner to try and feed Wiggins in the corner, and was easily intercepted by Beal, who despite a brutal start to the game, was the key force in the win for the Wizards.
Damion Lee turned the ball over with seconds left on the clock pic.twitter.com/kk9KrxH3fv
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 10, 2021
And with 1.2 seconds left, and a chance to tie the game, Curry, who finished with 32 points (11-of-26, 5-of-13 on three), 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, didn’t even get a shot off in time. A brutal, ridiculous loss.
Steph comes up short at the buzzer
Wizards win pic.twitter.com/cSTIZDac8J
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 10, 2021