Listen Live Now:

3 takeaways as Warriors, Klay steady ship vs. Knicks

© D. Ross Cameron | 2022 Nov 18

Boy did the Warriors need that.

Two days after getting blown out by the Suns for the second time this season, and falling to 6-9, the Warriors put together an impressive wire-to-wire win vs. the Knicks, 111-101, at Chase Center on Friday night.

It was a rare complete, drama free victory by the Warriors, who looked stylistically like the team we’ve watched for the better part of a decade, rather than the disjointed, adrift group that has showed up on most nights this season.

GS moved the ball on offense and showed effort on defense. They made their open looks and passed out of the contested ones. Stephen Curry was great, but didn’t have to carry the load. The bench was solid.

The Warriors are now 7-1 at home this year (+82 point differential) and 0-8 on the road (-85 point differential).

Here are three takeaways:

Kerr’s message got through

Move the ball and play defense. That was the thesis of Steve Kerr’s frustrated comments after Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns, when he said that Golden State didn’t play with any “grit.”

The Warriors responded on Friday at home, moving the ball in a manner we have become accustomed to in the Steve Kerr-era. Golden State started with 17 assists on their first 20 made baskets, and finished with 32 on 41.

Part of Kerr’s general point on Wednesday was that everything is connected. If you make the extra pass, the game will reward you. That’s more than just some mystical philosophy, there’s a reason for it. When the ball moves, the more the defense has to work, the easier it is to get open looks. Additionally, your opponent is also more fatigued when they have the ball, making it harder for them to generate good looks.

That philosophy bore fruit on Friday, with the Warriors shooting 45% from the field. Conversely the Knicks shot just 34% and 26% from 3, which was also in part caused by a much more engaged and energized Warriors defense.

Golden State still has some structural issues with their roster, specifically with their bench, but if everyone moves the ball and plays defense, their floor will skyrocket. Even with a small rotation, teams like the Knicks cannot compete with an engaged Warriors squad.

The Old Klay

Klay Thompson’s line from Friday was solid. He scored 20 points and was 8-of-16. If you watched the game, however, you saw one of his best performances of the year, and one much-needed tweak that could turn his season around.

Much of Kerr’s comments on Wednesday could’ve been directed at Klay specifically, especially offensively. For nearly the entire season, Klay has favored chucking contested shots over making the right play, due to his impatience to get himself going. Put simply, his solution to not shooting well (35%, 33% from 3 heading into Friday) has been to launch his way out of the slump. It’s a plan that doesn’t make a ton of logical sense, and hasn’t worked out in a practical one.

On Friday, Klay made a concerted effort not to do that. It was obvious from the jump, when he passed out of multiple difficult looks — ones he has been shooting — leading to better shots, either direct assists or hockey assists.

It just so happens that philosophy also bore fruit immediately for Klay’s own shot, with the extra passes ending back up in his hands and leading to eight quick points in three minutes.

Sure there were a few forces as the game went on, but far fewer than we’ve seen for much of the season. When Klay did force it and miss, he also didn’t compound it by doing it again in an attempt to quickly right the ship.

The best example of Klay letting the game come to him came late in the fourth quarter, when Thompson hit a wide open 3 to give the Warriors a 13-point lead and then an open mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 16 right after.

The improved decision making had a tangible positive affect on the entire Warriors offense, and is a fantastic sign that Thompson is both aware of his need to be more efficient and his willingness to tweak his style of play in order to get both himself and Golden State’s offense back on track.

Oh yeah, Klay also dunked for the first time this season.

Still fouling, not closing quarters

Okay, so it wasn’t entirely a cake walk for the Warriors on Friday. Per usual, much of their struggles were their own doing.

The fouling was still completely out of control. The Knicks aren’t exactly brimming with offensive talent, but they still earned an insane 34 free throw attempts, making 32 of those shots. That alone kept this one from being a blowout, and allowed the Knicks to stay within 20 points for nearly the entire game when they really had no business being in it.

That was compounded by the Warriors also failing to close quarters strongly, another consistent problem this year. Golden State allowed the Knicks to close the third on a 13-6 run and the second quarter on a 14-3 run.

To their credit, the Warriors closed out the final quarter when it mattered, a spot where they have crumbled multiple times this season.

 

Get KNBR in your inbox

Subscribe today to bring The Sports Leader to your email inbox weekly.