Warriors

Warriors brief: Is 'Playoff Iguodala' a real thing?

Warriors brief: Is 'Playoff Iguodala' a real thing?

The competition between the Rockets and Warriors this season actually started in the summer, when the bidding war started for Andre Iguodala’s services. In the end the Warriors won the prize, though there are reports that it came down to the wire in the end. The winning bid ended up being a three-year deal for $48 million, which was a lot more than many expected going into the offseason (including the Warriors themselves).

After the deal was signed there was a common consensus that the deal and his value would be worth it come playoff time. Many assumed that he would coast through the regular season until then. However, once the season started, and Iguodala did exactly that, it was many of those same people that turned on their own original assumptions and now assumed the worst. The critics started circling like vultures over Iguodala, deciding he had been overpaid and now did not care anymore, that he aged considerably over one offseason and now was just a high-priced spotty bench player that couldn’t hit a three or defend consistently.

Yet to some fans, media, Warriors executives, players and especially Igudodala himself, it was expected with great confidence he would turn it on come April. He missed six of the last seven games of the regular season, but despite that health scare, he was going to be ready to go come playoffs. And he has not disappointed.

Through the first two games of the first round, Iguodala has gone a combined 5-for-7 from deep, and also added 14 rebounds and nine assists. Last season, it took Iguodala 14 games into the playoffs (he played in 13 of them) to finally hit his fifth shot from long range. So the question is: has Iguodala consistently shown in his tenure as a Warrior that he is a new player come playoffs?

In his first year with the Warriors in the 2013-14 season (Mark Jackson’s last year as the head coach) Iguodala played well in the seven game opening round series that the Warriors lost to the Clippers. He finished the seven games averaging 13.1 points on 52 percent shooting from the field and 53 percent shooting from distance, while most importantly playing his elite level defense.

The following season, under Steve Kerr, Iguodala then made the well documented move to the bench as the Warriors’ sixth man. That was also the postseason were the Warriors famously inserted Iguodala into the starting lineup once they were trailing in the Finals, and he went on to capture Finals MVP with his exceptional performance and defense on LeBron James. In total, he finished those playoffs averaging 10.4 points on 47 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent from deep over 21 playoff games. But it was in the Finals that he made his biggest impact statistically, dropping 16.3 points per game on 52 percent overall shooting and a 40 percent clip from three point range.

Yet again, despite losing in the quite controversial Finals series to the Cavaliers, Iguodala performed admirably in the playoffs during the 2015-16 season. He finished the 24 total games averaging nine points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from deep. These averages were very similar to his regular season numbers of seven points per game, 48 percent field goal percentage and 35 percent on threes.

Finally we come to last season, which was a bit of an aberration statistically for Iguodala since joining the Warriors. He missed his first 18 shots from deep to start the playoffs, and eventually by game 13 of the postseason, he was hitting a measly 3 of 27 shots from long range. He would go on to finish shooting 19 percent from three point range when all was said and done, but his overall 46 percent shooting from the field and his three-to-one assist to turnover ratio was much needed for a Warriors team that dealt with some injuries early on.

Despite this extensive breakdown of Iguodala’s statistics throughout his Warriors playoff career, his true value is not seen in the traditional box score. Iguodala has proven to be a performer that needs to be critiqued qualitatively rather than quantitatively. His defense, leadership, energy and overall basketball I.Q. have been invaluable to the Warriors during his tenure with the team. He is already off to a hot start this postseason, but you should expect nothing less than Playoff Iguodala.

In third quarter takeover, Curry lets weight of others worrying slide right off his back

In third quarter takeover, Curry lets weight of others worrying slide right off his back

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry couldn’t help himself. He let his emotion tumble off his tongue and, well, clipped one of his angel wings.

Curry dropped an f-bomb Sunday that was heard by a few dozen of the 19,596 fans at Oracle Arena but deciphered by millions of TV-watching lip-readers around the globe.

So hyper-aware of it was Curry that had a ready response when asked about it after the Warriors laid a 126-85 beating on the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

“I already know,” he said.

“I blacked out,” Curry explained, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “I blacked out.”

To his credit, there was no denial and no awkward attempt at damage control. He was busted and he knew it.

Keep in mind, now, Curry does charity work in his sleep. He raises a finger to give thanks after every basket. He pens bible verses on his sneakers. He makes an annual trip to a church in Oakland to personally donate goods to a community in need.

Yet there he was, late in the third quarter, single-handedly destroying the Rockets, getting carried away. After driving in for a finger roll that gave the Warriors a 24-point lead, Curry yanked out his mouthpiece with his left hand, while gesturing with his right hand and shouting words that will follow him forever.

“This is my f---ing house.”

He was, in the metaphorical sense, telling a precise truth. Curry is the most popular player the Warriors have ever had. He’s a two-time MVP who has been at the vanguard of basketball’s 3-point revolution. His 3-pointers have a way of crushing opponents and fortifying the blood of fans at Oracle.

Curry entered Game 3 being trailed by the nagging sounds of worry. There were questions about his left knee and whether it was fully healed from the Grade 2 MCL sprain sustained in March. There were concerns about his defense and whether expending so much energy on that end was siphoning his vigor on offense, where he struggled with his shot.

There was hope that, maybe, he could return to the cozy bosom of Oracle and prove that all was well.

After a mediocre first half -- sub-mediocre by his standard -- Curry came out in the third quarter and fried every defender who dared to get in front him. He scored 18 points in less than 10 minutes, making every shot he took: 7-of-7 overall, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

It was during this dazzling takeover that the weight of so many others worrying about him, asking him about his game, slid off his back.

And he wanted to let everybody know how good it felt.

“A lot of it was just talking to myself, almost like you've got to be your biggest fan sometimes,” he said. “No matter what questions I was being asked over the first two games or what the expectations were, I had the highest expectations for myself. And you've just got to...find whatever you want to get going.

“Obviously it felt good and you want to use that energy to show your teammates that you're here, you're with them, get the crowd into it.”

Curry still pays a fine to his mother for his turnovers. It’s not substantial, but it adds up and, if Sonya Curry were so inclined to save it, could pay for a nice car.

Well, Mrs. Curry may fine her eldest son for this, too. Curry may volunteer penance. There is a price to be paid for Curry’s frat-boy moment.

There’s also, in some quarters, a sense of relief. Yes, Curry is back and teaching lessons on the court. But he’s also human, capable of the kind of momentary lapse that he’d like to rewind and erase.

Curry’s image has been scrubbed and rescrubbed by a thousand loofahs. It has been, for some, a little too clean. There is dirt on it now, all because he let his emotions off the leash for a moment.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Red-hot third quarter pushes Warriors halfway to fourth straight NBA Finals

Red-hot third quarter pushes Warriors halfway to fourth straight NBA Finals

That moment. It comes out of nowhere.

While fans were still putting mustard on hot dogs coming out of halftime Sunday evening at Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors were busy dropping the hammer on the Houston Rockets.

Almost every team in the league has faced an offensive run by the Warriors. Once it starts, it’s one of the more difficult things to stop in the NBA.

Golden State took a modest 54-43 lead into halftime and then unleashed the fury on Houston coming out of he break. The Warriors hit the visitors with a 10-0 run to start the third and ran away from the Rockets for a 126-85 win.

Stephen Curry shook off early game shooting struggled to hit the Rockets with 18 points in the third. Curry hit all seven of his shots in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws.

“Steph definitely got it going,” Draymond Green said following the win. “I think it was very important for him to get to the basket. Once he started getting to the basket, then all of the sudden the threes opened up and they started to fall."

With the Rockets chasing the two-time league MVP around the court, Kevin Durant added 10 of his 25 points in the quarter 4-of-6 shooting. Once the pair got hot, there was nothing the Rockets could do but try to limit the damage.

“We played soft, actually,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You can’t do that with these guys, these guys are good."

Houston tried to respond, cutting the Warriors lead to 21 heading to the fourth quarter, but the rout was on. Golden State outscored the Rockets 38-18 in the fourth to give them their largest margin of victory in team playoff history.

“The second half, we came out too slow, too slow, too soft,” James Harden said. “Offensively, we didn’t have any thrust and they exploited it."

Curry knocked down a pair of triples in the fourth to finish the evening with 35 points. After a rough couple of shooting games in the playoffs, the All-Star guard appeared to find his mojo.

“I have the highest expectations for myself and you just got to find whatever it is to get you going,” Curry said. “Obviously, it felt good and you want to use that energy to show your teammates that you’re here, that you’re with them and get the crowd into it. But it’s just one game and you have to have that same type of energy and intensions and focus next game."

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures as they took a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. 

The two teams return to Oracle on Tuesday where Golden State will try to hold home-court advantage and move one step closer to a fourth straight NBA Finals.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm