Warriors

What we learned as Poole stars off bench in Dubs' win vs. Heat

Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time since before Christmas, the Warriors played a game with a nearly healthy roster as all but three players -- two of which have been out all season long -- were active. 

But, facing a depleted Miami Heat roster, which only got worse as the game went on, the Warriors' depth shined through as they walked away with the 115-108 win.

With Steph Curry having a quiet night, putting up just nine points on 3-of-17 shooting, including 1-of-10 from three (though he did have 10 assists) the "others" showed, yet again, that they have what it takes to keep the team afloat. But, it also showed how aren't as dangerous without Curry. 

Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins combined for 54 points, while Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica added 10 each off the bench. Meanwhile, Draymond Green had his prototypical high-impact night. 

But the Warriors (29-7) played with their food too much, allowing the Heat (23-15) to hang too close all night long and not putting the clamps on until the fourth quarter. Still, there were more positives to take away from the game than negatives.

Here are three takeaways from Monday's game:

Poole shines as the sixth man

For the second game in a row, Poole came off the bench as a sixth man. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said both instances -- against the Utah Jazz on Saturday and against Miami on Monday -- were matchup-based decisions. However, it's hard not to imagine that a small part of the decision is to get Poole used to coming off the bench. 

 

Once Klay Thompson comes back, which could happen as soon as Sunday, Poole will no longer be a starter. 

In his bench role against the Heat, Poole looked incredibly comfortable. He got an extended run in the first quarter after Curry picked up two quick fouls, and ended with 26 total minutes in which he scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 5-for-9 from three and a thunderous clutch dunk, and five assists.

Before the game, Kerr said Poole isn't permanently coming off the bench while they wait for Thompson to come back. There's a chance Poole starts in Dallas on Wednesday. But, when the time comes for him to make his move to the sixth man role full-time, he looks like he'll hold his own in that position. 

Draymond for MVP?

Two days ago, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Draymond Green should be in the NBA MVP conversation because of his uniqueness and the way he impacts what the Warriors do. 

On Monday, Green's performance against the Heat showed the exact uniqueness and impact Snyder was talking about. 

In 36 minutes, Green registered 13 assists, eight rebounds and five points. And of course, he was Golden State's rock on defense. Green had four blocks and one steal, highlighted by rejecting a PJ Tucker corner 3-point attempt, and a clutch block on Omar Yurtseven in the fourth.

The first half saw Green dish out 10 assists. He didn't score his first bucket until the third quarter -- a cutting layup -- and knocked down a three a few minutes later. 

Green showed exactly what Snyder was telling us the other night: This team is much better with him on the court. 

Wiggins continues to take it up a notch

Wiggins has been consistent as ever for the Warriors this season. Ever since that now-famous dunk on Karl-Anthony Towns in November, he has been playing with a different level of aggression and decisiveness that have done nothing but help him and Golden State. 

But every once in a while, he takes his game and performance up another notch -- mostly when someone else is having an off night and the team needs an extra boost.

On Monday, it was Curry who was off. And Wiggins wasted no time upping his game, finishing the night with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

So far this season, he's regularly been the Warriors' second or third-best player on the floor. And when he's not the second-best overall, he's their second-best scorer.