Poole, Dubs' bench get boost of confidence before play-in

Mychal Mulder, Jordan Poole celebrate

There was no pressure riding on the Warriors' game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center on Friday night. 

Win or lose, the results of the game would have no implications on the Warriors' standings in the Western Conference and their race for the eighth seed.

It was the perfect opportunity to give Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins some deserved rest before their most important game of the season on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies. 

And with that, it also gave Golden State's rotational players a chance to build chemistry, confidence and overall development. 

"This game was great for us in regards to getting the rhythm, getting momentum for the guys off the bench. That's important," Mychal Mulder said. "I thought we played really well tonight on both ends of the floor ... we communicated and executed on both ends of the floor and that led to the success we had tonight. We just got to carry that type of thing over to the next game. And with all of our guys back, we should be in a good position."

A few days ago, it probably would have been impossible for the Warriors to sit three starters just because of the lack of bodies available. But with Eric Paschall returning after missing the last month and Jordan Bell joining the team on a two-way contract, Golden State's depth got a good run. And not only just a run, but a 125-122 win.


"It was pivotal," Kent Bazemore said. "Get some guys some confidence, especially with Jordan (Poole) going out there and being able to play free, it’s really good for the psyche. And for us to get the win with our three-head honchos sitting out, it’s huge for the morale. It’s huge for the team. We took care of business and it’s a big step in the right direction for us."

A few weeks ago, the Warriors struggled to survive the non-Steph minutes. So Friday's win was also a testament to how far the Warriors' bench has come.

As Bazemore said, Poole played with a certain ease we've gotten samples of before, but never to this magnitude. He finished with 38 points, while Mulder added 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Three other Warriors finished in double figures.

It also displayed the continued improvement the Warriors have made as a whole on problem areas such as the rebounding margins and taking care of the ball. Yes, the Warriors committed 11 turnovers and got a bit sloppy down the stretch, but considering it was their second unit playing the entire night, it was a strong showing. 

"These last 10 or so games have been super pivotal for us," Bazemore said. "The attention to detail is raised a bit, the intensity is raised a bit ... it’s crazy to see how a week or two can change the landscape of things."

Allowing the bench to get nearly unlimited playing time was nearly as important for the Warriors as getting their starters some rest. It allowed Paschall to get his legs back under him. Jordan Bell could get acclimated to his new old team. Guys like Poole and Mulder -- who have been had a big role in the rotation since losing Damion Lee and Kelly Oubre Jr. -- finally got the experience of closing out a tight game.

All of these experiences will be immensely helpful in Sunday's game against the Grizzlies, and then into the play-in tournament. 

"To be able to carry that rhythm over, that momentum over, into the next game, that is a big focus for us," Mulder said.

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It's not as though the Warriors were playing a top-seeded team on Friday night. But still, in a game that came down to the wire, there are certain lessons that can only be learned through doing it. And Golden State's game against the Pelicans was a helpful teaching tool for its younger players. 

For a team that once had no one to depend on but their future Hall of Fame point guard, the Warriors now have proven they have the additional pieces to build with in the future and have a good chance of winning games now.

"You get your chance, you get your foot in the door and you just ride that wave as long as you can," Bazemore said. "We got the best player in basketball and we’ve got a supporting cast. So we’re looking forward to the challenge."


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