Rewind: Warriors' explosive offense saves defensive letdown

Rewind: Warriors' explosive offense saves defensive letdown

OAKLAND – The Warriors reacted to this victory without even a modicum of celebration. Even in triumph, they rather scolded themselves.

And rightly so, since their performance in a 133-120 outlasting of the pesky Phoenix Suns on Sunday looked not at all like the blueprint the Warriors have drawn up for themselves.

They’ve designed their roster around having the offense follow the lead of the defense. The defense on this night, with two brief but significant exceptions, provided no direction or even influence. So the offense came up with season-highs for points (133) and points in a half (71 in the second).

“If you’re trying to win a championship, you don’t do that by simply outscoring people,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said

“Today was one of those games where it’s like . . . it’s a letdown game,” forward Draymond Green said.

“That’s human nature to try and make excuses for what you shouldn’t focus on this or focus on that,” Stephen Curry said. “We have to kind of overcome that.”

Yet the Warriors still won, following a 27-9 closing burst to put away a Suns team that for most of the night did a wonderful job of fighting through fatigue resulting from having completed a game 22 hours earlier in Phoenix.

“Give the Suns credit; they are a well-coached and very young and talented team,” Thompson said. "But if we want to get where we need to go, we have to pick it up on that side of the ball.”

[WATCH: Top plays from Warriors' 133-120 win over the Suns]

The second half featured a couple defensive highlights that – even on a night when Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Curry combine for 89 points – provided graphic illustration of the importance of that element for the Warriors.

One, there was the third-quarter sequence with Durant chasing down Suns guard Devin Booker for a spectacular block at the rim, sending a jolt of electricity through Oracle Arena and leading directly to a Curry 3-pointer in transition.

There was another Durant block, this time of Suns guard Eric Bledsoe with the Warriors up 126-117 and 1:46 remaining in the game that pretty much put Phoenix to sleep.

“There was a point when we made a couple stops,” Curry said. “Draymond got really aggressive on the ball, Pat (McCaw) and KD made those blocks that got the crowd into it and got us easy transition buckets.

“We showed we obviously have the right personnel and matchups to get stops, but we didn’t start the game off that way.”

Even as the Warriors blocked seven shots, with Durant, Green and McCaw each rejecting two, the Suns kept coming. They shot at least 50 percent in every quarter against a Warriors defense that generally was lackadaisical and often without effective communication.

It wasn’t enough to negate the offense supplied by Curry, Thompson and Durant. Curry and Thompson each totaled 30 points, and Durant finished with 29. The offense combined with just enough defense, at precisely the right moments, to power the Warriors to their fourth consecutive win – and their franchise-best ninth consecutive win over the Suns.

All of which provided a little more than relief to a Warriors team that had to come back from a five-point deficit (111-106) with 6:15 remaining.

“Good way to close, but a lot to work on defensively,” Kerr said.

“Honestly, I think this was our first game day at home without a shootaround, so it’s different from our routine,” Curry said. “Maybe our engines weren’t revved up enough before the game.

“It was a good learning experience, because it won’t be the last time.”

Steph Curry nets second Player of the Week honor of 2018-19 season

Steph Curry nets second Player of the Week honor of 2018-19 season

If you needed another reminder of Steph Curry's greatness, he missed three weeks with a strained left groin, returned last weekend and immediately won the Western Conference Player of the Week award.

The honor is Curry's second of the season and 14th of his career. Tim Hardaway is the next closest with just five Player of the Week honors.

So, what did Curry do to earn the honor? In three games against the Hawks, Cavs and Bucks, Curry averaged 30.7 points, 5.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds.

The highlight of the week came in the Warriors' first trip to Cleveland since winning Game 4 of the NBA Finals in June. Curry made nine 3-pointers and finished with 42 points.

In the three games, all Warriors wins, Curry made 19 3-pointers.

Curry is the only Western Conference player to win the award twice this season. Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, C.J. McCollum, Anthony Davis, Tobias Harris and Paul Millsap have all taken home the award once this season.

These honors may not have any bearing on Curry's MVP candidacy, but it certainly shows his value to the Warriors. During the 11-game stretch where Curry was out, the Warriors went 5-6. They lost his first game back as he re-entered the rotation. But they are 3-0 since then and starting to build momentum.

Andre Iguodala disagreed with Steve Kerr's message before Game 6 of '15 Finals


Andre Iguodala disagreed with Steve Kerr's message before Game 6 of '15 Finals

Programming note: Watch tonight's Warriors-Timberwolves game streaming live at 7:30 p.m. PT on the MyTeams app.

On June 16, 2015, the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 105-97 to capture their first NBA championship since 1975.

What was Steve Kerr's message to his team at shootaround that morning?

"Steve was like, 'We got a chance to do something special, but don't put too much pressure on ourselves," Andre Iguodala revealed on the Winging It Podcast. "If we don't win, we still going back home and we close it out at home. So we should play free.' And I was like, 'Nope. Listen man, I'm not playing no more basketball games after tonight.'

"And that's exactly what I said. I'm like, 'Listen. We ain't playing no more after tonight. We're gonna win this thing. You know how crazy it is to get here? We may never come back here.'

"I don't know. I just had this glow. I just couldn't wait for the game. I felt great. I don't know if I ever felt that confident and that good ever. I don't know why. Timing was perfect."

Whether it was Kerr's words or Iguodala's counter that resonated with the Warriors is immaterial at this point. All that matters is that Golden State won the title.

In Game 6, Iguodala registered 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He did not commit a single turnover and helped hold LeBron James to 13-for-33 from the field.

Iguodala averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists over the six games, while shooting 52 percent overall and 40 percent from 3-point territory. He was awarded Finals MVP -- not something he was anticpating.

"Bob Myers was like, 'Yo, man. You deseve everything,' I'm like, 'Thanks man.' And he's like, 'No man. You got Finals MVP.' And I was like, 'Huh?' (laughter). I was like, 'What?!'"

Oh, the memories...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller