Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 120-118 comeback win over Heat

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 120-118 comeback win over Heat

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OAKLAND -- In their last stop on the road to their 40th win of the season, the Warriors proved yet again that they are talented enough to overcome themselves.

It also helps when the opponent is mediocre, as was the case Sunday in a 120-118 thriller over the Heat before a sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors prevailed despite being profoundly outrebounded (49-36), soundly outshot from 3-point range (41.9 percent to 36.1) and, of course, outmuscled because that’s the one thing Miami does as well as any team in the NBA.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ 15th win in 16 games:

Shooters had to bring it, and they did

Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 93 points on 36-of-63 shooting from the field, including 12-of-30 from beyond the arc.

Durant poured in 39 points despite draining only one 3-pointer -- a very important one with 44 seconds remaining. He was 16-of-24 from the field and 6-of-10 from the line.

Thompson scored 29 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 6-of-13 from deep.

Curry totaled 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-10 from deep.

Without the scoring of these three, this would not have been much of a game. The seven other Warriors that played -- Andre Iguodala was out with a tight hamstring -- combined for 25 points.

How nice it is to have stars that can make big shots late in the game.

Trouble on the glass

Two days after allowing the Suns to grab 19 offensive rebounds and put up 20 second-chance shots, the Warriors were no better at keeping their opponent off the offensive glass.

The Heat, appreciably better than Phoenix on the offensive glass, grabbed nine in the first quarter and 19 for the game.

This continues to be a problem indicative of poor focus and fundamentals. Or maybe the Warriors don’t believe full dedication is needed to prevail against inferior teams.

Though the Warriors often talk of the need to “build good habits” over the course of the regular season, they are failing in this area.

Boogie’s Night, Pt. X

DeMarcus Cousins made a pair of clutch free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining to put away the game, so all’s well that ends well.

Cousins totaled seven points on 2-of-6 shooting, adding three rebounds, three blocks, two steals and one assist. He was minus-12 over 27 minutes.

Though Cousins continues to come along, his conditioning remains an issue that is revealed against young, aggressive centers of size. It was Deandre Ayton on Friday in Phoenix, and on Sunday it was Hassan Whiteside, particularly in the first half.

Whiteside grabbed 12 rebounds through three quarters, but was not a factor down the stretch because he’s not a part of Miami’s closing lineup.

This wraps up the game-by-game "Boogie’s Night" series, which was designed for the duration of his first 10 games.

Why former owner didn't allow Warriors to trade 'most popular player'

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AP

Why former owner didn't allow Warriors to trade 'most popular player'

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders Thursday night at 6 p.m. PT, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

In late May 2017, the Hawks hired Travis Schlenk to be their general manager.

Schlenk had worked for the Warriors since the 2004-05 campaign, including his final five seasons as assistant GM.

Over the weekend, he was a guest on The Woj Pod and was asked a specific question about his time with Golden State.

Adrian Wojnarowski: "When you think back to how that team got put together, are there one or two moments where you think, 'Wow, that could have so easily gone the other way, but for good fortune or sound decision-making, we did that?'"

"One instance really stands out in my mind," Schlenk began. "I remember when I first went from the coaching side to the front office side -- Larry Riley was the GM at the time. He came to me and said, 'Hey, you know I could really use you on the front office side.' Don Nelson was the head coach. Nellie came and talked to me and he said, 'Listen, I think you have a great eye for talent. I think you should go work in the front office.'

"And at first, I was taken back. My dream since I was a little kid growing up in Western Kansas in a town of 200 people was to be a coach. And I thought I had a good eye for it with the x's and o's. But my wife and I, we'd just had our first kid and I remember thinking to myself, 'Well there's a lot more stability in the front office side of things than on the coaching side of things, maybe I should do this.' So we did it.

"I told Larry -- we were at the hoop summit up in Portland -- I said, 'I'll come do the front office side with you, but you gotta promise, you know, we'll trade these two guys. We gotta trade these two guys because at the time we didn't have the world's best locker room and we had a young group of guys that we wanted to try to develop.

"And we both agreed that was gonna be our plan and our strategy. Now it took us two years to do it but we got it done."

OK. Now to the juicy part.

"Back to the original question," Schlenk said. "One moment (that) really changed the course of everything -- there was a trade that we wanted to do. And we were sitting down with the owner at that time, Chris Cohan. And we said we think we should do this trade -- we're getting back two guys, it frees up our cap, it's gonna allow the growth of Steph. And Chris said, 'We can't do that trade, player X is the most popular player we have and season ticket renewals (are) around the corner.'

"And I was just like you gotta be kidding me. We are gonna make this decision based on who our fans think should be on our team, not the guys that you've hired to put together the team?"

At this point, Woj interjects and says, 'This was the Bucks, right?"

"No, this wasn't the Bucks," Schlenk answered. "I don't want to name the players. So we didn't do the trade. And then later on we were able to do a trade with that player that brought us Andrew Bogut. And that was obviously a big piece of the championship puzzle.

"As they say, sometimes the best deals you do are the ones you don't do."

[REWINDTravis Schlenk shares story from moments before Warriors drafted Steph Curry]

Innnnnnnnnnteresting.

So without explicitly revealing the player's name, we can all put on our detective hats and determine that Schlenk had to be referring to...

...Monta Ellis.

In March 2012, the Warriors traded Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Let's just say that neither Brown or Udoh were considered Golden State's "most popular player." 

In case you forgot, Monta last appeared in an NBA game in April 2017. He was waived three months later and the Pacers decided to stretch his contract over the subsequent five seasons. So yes, he will make $2,245,400 each year through the 2021-22 campaign.

Finally, the obvious follow-up thought/question to Schlenk's comments is: Who was the other player that he wanted to trade?

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

Steph Curry faces long odds to be named MVP again, even if he deserves it

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AP

Steph Curry faces long odds to be named MVP again, even if he deserves it

The Warriors return from the All-Star break to host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, beginning a stretch of the final 25 games leading into the playoffs.

Those 25 games represent Steph Curry's final chance to convince the powers that be that he is the NBA's Most Valuable Player for a third time.

He certainly has a case. But for a variety of reasons, let's just get this out of the way now:

Barring an extended stretch that would seem insane even for Curry, it's just not happening this year.

[RELATED: Curry sneaks in odd phrases at All-Star for Jimmy Fallon]

It's no fault of Curry's own. He's in the midst of arguably his second-best season ever, behind only his unanimous MVP campaign of 2015-16.

That season, Curry averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field, 45.4 percent from 3-point range and 90.8 percent from the free throw line.

So far this season, Curry is averaging 28.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per contest on 48.8 percent shooting from the field, 44.4 percent from beyond the arc and 92.2 percent from the charity stripe. And that's after shooting uncharacteristically poorly over Golden State's final four games before the break.

Curry leads all NBA players in average plus-minus (plus-9.7 points per game). He ranks first among all qualifying players in offensive rating (120.1 points per 100 possessions) and first among all qualifying guards in true shooting percentage (66.0 percent). 

Perhaps nothing clarifies Curry's value quite like his importance to his own team. The Warriors (41-16) hold the best record in the Western Conference, but Golden State is only 5-6 this season in games their star point guard has missed.

[RELATED: Outsider Observations: Dubs face questions down backstretch]

Really, the main reason Curry won't win a third MVP this year has nothing to do with him. It has everything to do with who is around him, and who isn't around the other main contenders for the award.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, who just happen to hold the league's best record at 43-14.

James Harden leads the league in scoring, and has totaled at least 30 points in every game since Dec. 13.

Paul George sits behind Harden and just ahead of Curry with an average of 28.7 points per contest (second in the NBA), and he's arguably been the best two-way player in the NBA this season.

Assuming each of those three players are the most valuable on their respective teams, that would make the Robin to their Batman a combination of Khris Middleton, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.

Two of those running mates were All-Stars. The one that wasn't -- Paul -- probably would have if not for missing 22 games due to injury.

Still, none of those guys are Kevin Durant, who was named the MVP of the All-Star Game.

[RELATED: Durant joins exclusive club with second All-Star Game MVP]

Nor do any of Curry's main competitors have a supporting cast with the likes of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.

That's not Curry's fault, but to think it won't matter in the minds of voters is just being naive. The Warriors don't have the record-advantage they've had in years past, so that's one less argument in his favor. Voters also seem to enjoy 'spreading the love', so to speak.

So, yes, barring something insane, Curry will almost certainly have to wait at least another year to add a third MVP trophy to his loaded shelves. Perhaps if their roster makeup changes significantly this offseason -- Durant will surely play a role -- he'll have a better shot at it next year.

Then again, if anyone is capable of something insane, it's the guy who became the first person ever to get all the MVP voters to agree on something.