The Warriors weren't the ones on a back-to-back on Thursday (that comes Friday night in Detroit), but it looked like they could have been for most of their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Thursday night.
The Warriors started slow and sluggish and got outworked. But in the fourth quarter, Golden State found a different spark that propelled them to a stunning 104-89 victory.
Steph Curry was the one who led the Warriors (13-2) to their victory, but it was Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee who helped bring the game together.
Bjelica was the only Warriors to get going early, scoring 14 points in the first half. Lee found his groove in the fourth, scoring nine of his 11 points in the quarter.
The fourth quarter is when the entire game changed, with the Warriors opening the period down 13 points, only to outscore the Cavs 36-8 and win by 15. And it's all thanks to Curry, who scored 20 points in the final quarter.
Here are three takeaways from the night:
The Steph Effect
As I said, the reason the Warriors won on Thursday night was because of Curry.
He finished the night with 40 points on 15-of-27 shooting, including 9-of-16 from 3-point range. This was Curry's 38th time hitting at least nine threes in a game, and accounted for more than half of Golden State's 3-pointers (14) in the win.
Even though other guys got going in the final half of the fourth quarter, it was because of the gravitational pull Curry has.
Since Curry was the only one seen as a threat on the court by the Cavs' defense, they started double and triple-teaming him. As he cut to the basket, the entire defense would collapse in.
And finally, unlike any other moment of the game, Curry's teammates -- primarily Lee -- were able to capitalize and knock down the open shot. Then, by the time defenders finally started showing them respect, they were already in a rhythm.
Let down on the boards
Just two days ago, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that the most surprising aspect of his team so far was their rebounding. They have been surprisingly good.
But against the Cavaliers, the Warriors were brutally outrebounded, and they paid the price.
Cleveland outrebounded Golden State 42-34 in the game. To make it worse, the Cavs got 13 offensive rebounds to the Warriors' five. That led to Cleveland getting 21 second-chance points to the Warriors' seven.
Defense lacked usual effort
One of the reasons Cleveland was able to get so many offensive boards and second-chance points was because the Warriors' defense was subpar through three quarters.
Golden State lacked effort on that end, falling asleep on some reads, and just failing to put a body under the rim at other times.
And whenever they managed to string together some good seconds of defense, the Cavs got bailed out with a foul.
Everything changed in the fourth quarter when the Warriors held the Cavs to 2-of-14 shooting from the field and limited them to just eight points.