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3 takeaways from the Warriors’ thrilling home-opener win over Clippers

© Kyle Terada | 2021 Oct 21

The pregame pyrotechnics and lights show braced Warriors fans for the first packed-house experience in the Chase Center since early 2020. Al Attles rung the Cable Car bell, E-40 performed at halftime, and by the time Stephen Curry sunk his seventh and eighth 3-pointers, the sell-out crowd erupted. 

Behind Curry’s 50th career 40-point game, the Warriors held off the Clippers for a 115-113 win to improve to 2-0. Golden State overcame 21 team turnovers with 45 points from Curry and by hitting 15 of their 31 3-pointers. 

Here are three takeaways from the home opener:

Heat check!

Minutes after welcoming the Chase Center crowd, Stephen Curry treated them to an all-time classic Curry performance. 

He threw his right fist after a personal 8-0 run forced Clippers coach Tyronn Lue to call timeout. He galloped back on defense after drilling his fifth three of the game — a catch-and-shoot dagger from the wing — with nine seconds left in the first quarter. 

No Clippers defender could stay in front of him. Not Paul George, Justise Winslow, Eric Bledsoe, and certainly not Luke Kennard, whom Curry blew by with a crossover for a grade-school level layup. 

After 12 minutes, Curry was on pace for 100 points. He was 9-for-9 from the field, 5-for-5 from 3 and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He could’ve hit a shot from across the Bay. 

The two-time MVP’s first miss came with 4:55 left in the second quarter after 10 consecutive hits. 

There’s no better show in the NBA than a Stephen Curry Heat Check. In the first quarter on Thursday, he pitched a perfect game. It was only the beginning.

Outside-in

The Warriors’ first five shots of the game came from 3. The long range attack isn’t necessarily by design, but open looks were there. 

Golden State nailed four of its first five 3s, three of which came from Andrew Wiggins. Such 3-point accuracy opened up opportunities for slip-screens and back cuts. With so much attention necessary on the perimeter, the Clippers’ defense was stretched too far. 

Jordan Poole drove and found Nemanja Bjelica wide open underneath for an easy bucket. Curry lobbed a pass underneath to Bjelica, who shielded Kennard on his hip. In the second quarter, Otto Porter Jr. found a cutting Poole from the high post for an easy layup. Then Juan Toscano-Anderson pump-faked a 3, drove and dished to Andre Iguodala for a standing dunk. 

Everything opened up offensively after the scorching start from deep. Golden State capitalized, hitting 20 of its first 25 shots (80%) — 15 of which were assisted. There was no hero ball, as Golden State pushed its lead to 61-42. GSW hit its first 14 two-point shots.

But then Paul George caught fire, and sloppy turnovers from Curry accelerated the Clippers’ run. Over the course of 5:33, a 19-point lead turned into a one-point halftime deficit.

Handing over free points 

How does a team that shoots 54% from the field and 44% from 3 trail by three points heading into the fourth quarter? They give the other team the ball. 

The 22-50 Oklahoma City Thunder led the NBA in 2020 with 16.1 turnovers per game. The Warriors want to be nowhere near that mark, but blew past it against the Clippers with 21. 

Curry, while jaw-dropping for most of the night, was one of the Warriors’ main culprit, committing six turnovers.. Sometimes he tried to get too fancy with his dribble, sometimes he got caught picking up too far from the hoop or making errant passes in the air. 

Poole coughed up a team-high seven turnovers. The third-year guard often drove to the hoop wildly, losing his footing. At one point, Draymond Green told him to calm down

After GSW’s season-opening win over the Lakers, head coach Steve Kerr said there’s still work to do with cleaning up sloppy turnovers. After two games, it could be becoming a trend. 

The turnovers weren’t Golden State’s only self-inflicted wounds, though. Green went 2-for-9 at the free throw line, including a key 1-for-2 trip late in the fourth. 

But Curry’s two late 3-pointers and Green’s finish inside put the Clippers away. They did just enough to win in spite of the turnovers and points left on the board.

 

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