AFTER the Warriors’ game against the Knicks Thursday night, Golden State coach Steve Kerr had a sharp rebuke for his team:
“I didn’t think there was much purpose to anything we did at either end of the floor.”
In Kerr’s eyes, the Warriors played aimless basketball against the Knicks. They looked tired and disinterested.
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The Warriors also won in a blowout. The final score, 103-90, was hardly indicative of the smack-down Golden State put on their hapless visitors.
The Knicks rested both Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony for the game, which might have led to the lax effort on the Warriors’ end, but while those two players are pretty critical to the Knicks’ chances in any game they play (Anthony more so than Rose), the Knicks are still the team with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference — it’s not just those two guys, right?
Well, if it isn’t, the Warriors just laid waste to a playoff team with a sleepwalking effort.
It took a little more than a month for the Warriors to reach full Death Star status.
The Warriors merely needed to remind Draymond Green of Kristaps Porzingis’ comments from a year before — Porzingis was locked down by Green last year, but ominously said he was looking forward to the next time they played; Green said the quotes “pissed him off” and then he pushed around Porzingis all night in the rematch, holding him to eight points — and put their regular lineup on the court to win Thursday’s game.
And they were still offensively awesome.
Take into account what an “aimless” Warriors team was able to do Thursday:
• They played the first 34 minutes of the game with an assist rate of 100 percent.
• They made JaVale McGee look like an All-Star.
Both of those things are jaw-dropping.
The Warriors finished Thursday night’s game with 41 assists on 45 field goals — the first 90-plus percent assist percentage game in the NBA since 2014.
The 41-assist night also made the Warriors the first team since the 1996-1997 Bulls to have three 40-assist games in a season.
The Warriors have played 27 games.
Often Thursday, the Warriors looked like they were box-score chasing. No one would cop to the rap after the game, but it’s hard to say that the team wasn’t overpassing against the Knicks, because… well… why not?
They were racking up assists for fun. That’s not normal.
That doesn’t say much about the glorified D-League team that showed up to Oakland — the Knicks — but it has to say something about how offensively brilliant the Warriors are.
And then there’s McGee.
The weirdest man in the NBA was a force on Thursday night, scoring 17 points in 15 minutes.
The Warriors kept lobbing the ball up to him, and he kept flushing it down. He looked like a perfect fit in the Warriors’ offence.
That’s a frightening development for the rest of the NBA.
In the Warriors’ quest to land Kevin Durant, they had to make some sacrifices. Two of those sacrifices were starting centre Andrew Bogut and his promising, but oft-injured, backup Festus Ezeli.
To replace those two players, Golden State brought in Zaza Pachulia, who has done a solid job in replacing Bogut’s high-post passing, and McGee — both on minimum contracts.
They’re providing tremendous value.
If McGee continues to play like he did Thursday night on the offensive end and can get anywhere near his defensive ceiling (he’s not even close right now, but the Warriors’ system might have something to do with that) he might just usurp Pachulia in the Warriors’ starting lineup in the latter half of the season. (Pachulia is out with a wrist injury at the moment).
If not, the Warriors have an impact big man off the bench.
As if Golden State didn’t have enough going for them already — they might have unlocked the incredible but to this point untapped potential of one of the most athletic 7-footers in recent NBA history.
What on earth is this team going to do to opponents when they’re actually trying?
We expected some growing pains with the Warriors, and there are still things that need to be figured out defensively with this Golden State squad — but this Warriors team will probably go down as the best offensive team in NBA history, and outside of Cleveland, there’s not a team that can keep up with them at their best. (Sorry, Utah, you really were the best hope in the Western Conference.)
It’s foolish to prolong, or limit, the inevitable — let’s just start a Cleveland-Golden State best-of-51 NBA Finals on Christmas Day.