The Warriors moved to 4-0 on Tuesday after their 106-98 victory over the now 0-4 Oklahoma City Thunder. On paper it looked like a blowout, but OKC took it to Golden State early before the more talented Warriors pulled away. Here are a few takeaways:
Late wake-up call
The fact that the Warriors needed to come back in the second half should come as a bit of a shock to anyone who watched these teams’ first three games.
Golden State entered as the only undefeated team in the Western Conference, with impressive wins over the Lakers and Clippers to open the season. The Thunder, meanwhile, looked like the worst team in the NBA through three games, losing by an average of 22 points, ranking 29th in offensive and 28th in defensive efficiency.
Despite that, it looked like the team’s switched uniforms in the first half. Golden State was lethargic on both ends. On defense they let the young Thunder get after them via backdoor cuts and in transition. On offense the the Warriors missed a number of wide-open shots, causing Stephen Curry to force the issue and the offense to stagnate.
Golden State had just 48 points at half and trailed by 11.
Eventually the Warriors woke up. Curry and Andrew Wiggins were the primary contributors, finishing with 23 and 21 points respectively.
Damion Lee was especially impactful, adding 20 of his own while sparking the Warriors in the third quarter. Through four games, Lee has been Golden State’s best wing aside from Wiggins, scoring in double-figures in each game and closing over Jordan Poole.
Otto Porter has his first Warriors moment
He might not have been the player of the game on Tuesday night, but offseason acquisition Otto Porter had the most important sequence for the Warriors.
Trailing the entire game up to that point, the Warriors finally made a push at the end of the third quarter, cutting the 11-point halftime deficit to one. Porter, who hadn’t scored up to that point, hit a catch-and-shoot three after a nice sequence of ball movement to give Golden State their first lead.
On the following Thunder possession, Porter played the role of 6-foot-8 rim protector, swating an Aleksej Pokusevski layup. After Lou Dort missed a follow up shot, Porter ran the floor and found himself open in the corner again, burying another three. Almost singlehandedly, Porter swung a one-point deficit into a five-point advantage, one the Warriors wouldn’t give up again.
It was a nice moment for Porter, who has found himself in an interesting spot to start the season. Naturally a wing, Porter has played more four and five due to Golden State’s lack of size, and has yet to find a rhythm.
It’s still a work in progress — Porter didn’t score any other points in his 17 minutes played — but it’s nice to see the veteran make an impact as he finds his footing.
Starting lineup shakeup?
The aforementioned Poole got off to a brutal start on Tuesday, going 2-for-8 and missing five mostly wide open threes. He eventually turned it around once he started driving to the basket in the second half.
Poole’s rough start was a microcosm of what may be a larger problem with the starting lineup, however, one that is consistently getting off to slow starts. Four games is hardly a significant sample size, but Golden State’s lineup of Curry, Poole, Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney is now -10 so far this season.
Jordan Poole has looked more comfortable in the second and fourth quarters while playing with mostly reserves, and with Damion Lee playing so well, it will be interesting to see if Kerr looks to tweak this lineup before Klay Thompson is ready to return.
For now, the Warriors are 4-0, and playing mostly great basketball, so don’t expect changes unless this group’s struggles exacerbate.