Warriors takeaways: What we learned in uneven 120-114 win over Cavaliers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in uneven 120-114 win over Cavaliers

OAKLAND -- In their quest to secure homecourt advantage throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Warriors reduced their magic number to one Friday night.

With five players scoring in double figures, they hung on for a 120-114 victory over the game but ultimately overmatched Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors (55-24) committed enough turnovers (13), especially of the live-ball variety (giving the Cavs 23 points) to provide a measure of suspense in the fourth quarter.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors were just sloppy enough, with just enough defensive lapses to melt away most of what had been a 21-point lead:

Curry crushes the Cavs

Cleveland rookie point guard Collin Sexton is having a terrific second half and has been getting a lot of publicity, so maybe Stephen Curry wanted to properly re-introduce the kid to the NBA.

Curry simply unloaded, scoring a game-high 40 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including 9-of-12 from deep. It didn’t matter which defender was responsible -- though he was Sexton’s primary assignment -- Curry punished them all.

Sexton had a fine game (25 points), but it wasn’t enough as Curry -- after subpar shooting (3-of-14, 1-of-9 from deep) Thursday night against the Lakers -- reverted to his recent form. He entered the game shooting just below 43 percent from deep since the March 1.

Moreover, his recent numbers at Oracle Arena have been absurd. He’s 29-of-52 (55.8 percent) from beyond the arc over his last five home games.

For Curry, who moved into third place on the franchise career scoring list (16,280 points), it’s not just the contact lenses.

Splashing up a storm

Is there a way to preserve fantastic 3-point shooting? Can it be frozen or somehow packaged in a way to make it last another few weeks? If so, the Warriors would like to know.

They shot 54.1 percent (20-of-37) from beyond the arc, with Curry, Draymond Green and Quinn Cook doing most of the damage.

This was the season-high seventh consecutive game in which they shot at least 38.0 percent from deep. They shot 48.0 percent (118-of-246) from 3-point distance over those seven games, going 6-1 over that span.

These are numbers the Warriors would love to bottle and pull out during the postseason.

Draymond making them pay

One of the tricks opponents have used -- successfully at times -- against the Warriors is choosing not to defend Green and daring him to shoot, especially from beyond the arc.

It might be time to re-think that strategy.

Green scored a season-high 20 points, shooting 8-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. And this is not a one-game aberration. Green is 16-of-38 (42.1 percent) from deep over his last 12 games.

After spending most of the season shooting well below 30 percent, Green has found his stroke. At this rate, it would be risky, perhaps even foolish, if teams continue to ignore his scoring potential.

Stephen Jackson reveals Baron Davis gave him best compliment of life

Stephen Jackson reveals Baron Davis gave him best compliment of life

Programming note: Watch all four of the "We Believe" Warriors' wins over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

In Game 6 of the "We Believe" Warriors' series-clinching victory over the Dallas Mavericks in 2007, Stephen Jackson scored a playoff career-high 33 points.

"I remember BD (Baron Davis) coming to me before the game and telling me, 'Jack, I ain't got it. I ain't got it, Jack. My legs, my knees, my back. I just ain't got it,'" Jackson recently told Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. "I'm like, 'Cool. I'll do what I gotta do.' I was locked in to play well."

Perhaps Davis just was trying to motivate his teammate, because BD recorded 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists that night. He clearly had some left in the tank.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But that's beside the point. You're reading this because of something else Jackson revealed to Fitzgerald.

"Two days later, I'm watching the game and I'm seeing the TV feed. They're interviewing BD after the game on the court, and she (the sideline reporter) asked him something about my play," the 2003 NBA champion explained. "And BD said -- this probably is the best compliment I've ever got from a brother and also a basketball player in my life -- I'm getting kind of emotional saying it ... BD said, 'A lot of people say a lot of stuff about Stephen Jackson, but they'll never admit he's a great basketball player.'

"That meant the world to me. That moment, I felt like everything had completely lifted off my shoulders."

[RELATED: Barnes reveals 'We Believe' Warriors documentary in works]

Remember, Jackson's image had been tarnished because of his role in the brawl that took place a couple years prior between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons -- aka the "Malice at the Palace."

And while some NBA fans forever will think of that unfortunate fight first when Jackson's name is mentioned, that won't be the case for the majority of Warriors fans because Dub Nation immediately will point to Jackson's contributions in upsetting the No. 1 seed Mavs.

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Steph Curry, Steve Kerr among sports stars outraged by George Floyd death


Steph Curry, Steve Kerr among sports stars outraged by George Floyd death

Face pressed to the street and eyes wide with panic, George Floyd was in handcuffs and begging for mercy. He feared he might die. His only hope was appealing to the humanity of the man threatening his life.

Humanity was denied by Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer whose left knee was resting on Floyd’s neck.

Even with cell phones recording video, Chauvin didn’t flinch. He didn’t back off until Floyd’s pleas went silent and he was unconscious. Moments later, he was dead.

Floyd had been subdued. Was not a threat. Yet he was subjected to further violence. So brazenly egregious was the brutality that visibly shaken Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey needed only a few hours to oversee the dismissal of Chauvin and three complicit officers.

The video is a graphic illustration of police terror in plain sight. It’s an example of the behavior that inspired former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel in peaceful protest. If the reaction of high-profile sports figures is any indication at all, Floyd’s death could prompt high-profile dissent to become louder and more visible.

Consider this Instagram post from Warriors superstar Steph Curry.

“If this image doesn’t disturb you and piss you off, then [I don’t know]," Curry wrote. "I’ve seen a lot of people speak up and try to articulate how fed up and angry they are. All good and well, but it’s the same same same reality we live in. George Floyd. George Floyd. George has a family. George didn’t deserve to die. George pleaded for help and was just straight up ignored, which speaks loud and clear that his black life didn’t matter. George was murdered. George wasn’t human to that cop that slowly and purposefully took his life away."

Curry’s former Warriors teammate, Matt Barnes, replied on IG, saying, “Haven’t seen it said any better than my lil bro put it!!”

The Floyd tragedy, coming three weeks after the release of incriminating video of the vigilante shooting of jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, is but the latest reminder of America’s inability to forcefully and effectively address systemic racism.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, upon seeing the video, offered a response with broad implications on Twitter.

Us. As in those of us who condone such conduct. As in those of us in positions of authority, such as President Donald Trump. There is zero chance of reducing state-sanctioned murder without cooperation from those of us within in a power structure dominated by white men.

“This goes to something very deep in our nation’s soul,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “There’s definitely a responsibility of white people to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’ But we also have a responsibility in this country to reconcile our sins. That needs to happen.

“Sometimes I hear people say, ‘What are you complaining about? Slavery was abolished 150 years ago.’ They’re missing the point. We haven’t come to grips with it. If we had, we wouldn’t still see Confederate flags flying around, whether it’s at courthouses or at Trump rallies. I know some of those have been taken down over the past few years, but I feel there’s never truly been reconciliation with the sins of our past.”

Any decent history book reveals the United States was built on violence and suppression. Native Americans were massacred, their land seized. Slaves, most brought over from Africa, were treated as property to be punished or killed without a blink.

More than 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, blatant racial discrimination, most often symbolized by Jim Crow laws, still was the norm in the United States. Now, 56 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, racism continues. In three-plus years under Trump, there has been a resurgence in demonstrations of outright bigotry.

“I wish we had more outrage from the top,” Kerr said. “But it seems like it’s just the citizens who are expressing the most frustration.”

[RELATED: Stephen Jackson emotional over his friend's death in police custody]

The highest offices in the land have exhibited no sustained, committed desire to take healing action. But some of the citizens, black and white, have a voice that carries further than others. And they are expressing outrage at the consistency of such incidents.

Curry and Kerr are repulsed that such a small privilege as life, much less liberty, still can be revoked based on skin color. So are Stephen Jackson and Kyle Korver. So are LeBron James and retired NFL star Chris Long and former WNBA star Lisa Leslie. They all see what Kaepernick saw.

In the end, Americans of every stripe must ask themselves a simple question: How much more barbarism are we willing to tolerate?