Warriors

Warriors Under Review: Draymond Green bounces back, leads win over 76ers

Warriors Under Review: Draymond Green bounces back, leads win over 76ers

For a back-to-back defending champion, there can be no signature win in the regular season. But what the Warriors pulled off Saturday in Philadelphia surely provided immense satisfaction.

They used a paste made from grit and sweat to come back for a 120-117 victory over the 76ers. Down 14 in the third quarter, the Warriors regrouped and swept the Sixers off their own floor.

Beating the best team they’d seen since the All-Star break, the Warriors brought a disappointing four-game road trip to an impressive conclusion.

Here are some of the positives and negatives from the game:

POSITIVE

Welcome back, Draymond

Put simply, Draymond Green was not a factor in Miami or Orlando. It’s odd, because he has a way of making himself a factor without gaudy numbers. He knew he needed to bounce back, and he did, picking apart the Philly offense with his playmaking and practically devouring the offense with his omnipresent defense. Green scored two points in 18 second-half minutes, yet was plus-12.

This team’s defense follows the lead of Green. If he’s bringing it, they’re shamed into sharing the load. He redeemed himself.

POSITIVE

JB brings it again

Even when most of his teammates were snoozing through Miami and Orlando, Jordan Bell was working. Given his youth and sparse playing time, he has plenty of energy. So for the third consecutive game, he was productive. He scored only three points, but he had three rebounds, two blocks and a dazzling assist in 16 minutes. He also did some nice defensive work on Tobias Harris.

Bell’s turnaround is timely enough, but with Kevon Looney unavailable Saturday, there was an urgent need. Bell delivered. He is earning his minutes.

NEGATIVE

Charity? No thanks

The Warriors entered the game ranked fourth in free-throw percentage at 81 percent, with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant ranking in the top 10. They went to the line 34 times, two short of their season-high, and they missed 10, tying a season-high. Durant missed four (10-of-14), as did Cousins (6-of-10). As a team, the Warriors missed six in the fourth quarter.

Because they don’t get to the line very often, ranking 24th in attempts, they need to exploit all opportunities for easy money. They were fortunate to dodge disaster.

[RELATED: Warriors will be fine if they mirror needed win in Philly]

POSITIVE

The Hustle Game

It was impressive enough that the Warriors came up with 14 steals and seven blocks. What was more remarkable was the breadth of contributors. Six different players got at least one steal, with Curry swiping a team-high four. Four different players had at least one block, with Andre Iguodala rejecting a team-high three shots. That’s 21 effort points -- with 14 coming in their ferocious second half.

Steals and blocks are a great way to measure a team’s defensive tenacity. We’re confident that assistant coach/defensive coordinator Ron Adams was pleased.

Ex-Warriors' Kevin Durant not limping three months after Achilles surgery

Ex-Warriors' Kevin Durant not limping three months after Achilles surgery

This doesn’t look like the walk of a man who suffered a torn Achilles tendon just 12 weeks ago.

Former Warriors star Kevin Durant was seen climbing into a van in New York City on Thursday, and he was showing no signs of trauma from his season-ending Achilles tear suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

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Durant moved on from Golden State and signed with the Brooklyn Nets in July, and the 30-year-old appears to be enjoying his new city. He recently was seen in a Nets uniform for the first time since joining the team, although he is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season while he recovers from his Achilles tear.

The good news for KD is at least the rehabilitation process appears to be proceeding smoothly.

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Doc Rivers clarifies how Clippers acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard

Doc Rivers clarifies how Clippers acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard

“Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.”

That was the blunt statement Kawhi Leonard gave to Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during the team’s recruitment meeting with NBA Finals MVP prior to the start of NBA free agency, as told by head coach Doc Rivers in a recent conversation with the Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi.

“We actually had a list of guys, which was a mistake, but we got lucky,” Rivers said. “We shouldn’t have had a list, because then he got to choose who he wanted to play with and the assumption was that we could get them. We didn’t know if we could get anybody. We just showed him guys that we thought would match him and when he saw Paul George’s name he said, ‘I want to play with him.’”

The Clippers clearly needed some star power if they wanted to compete for championships, as Rivers and his club have been unsuccessful in advancing past the first round of the NBA playoffs three of the last four years, including missing the postseason entirely in 2017-18. The Clippers did make some noise in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, taking a pair of games from the Warriors before ultimately succumbing in a six-game series defeat.

LA parted with a record-number of draft picks to make the trade work with the Oklahoma City Thunder, sending a total of six future first-round draft picks and former first-rounders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari to acquire George.

“Steve Ballmer was nervous about the picks,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘Steve, you keep saying six picks for Paul George is insane, but you’re saying it wrong. It’s not six for Paul; it’s six for Paul and Kawhi. So three for each. I would do that.’ You have to look at it in those terms.”

[RELATED: Warriors will need eight things to go right to make NBA playoffs]

After the dust settled on 2019’s topsy-turvy free agency period, the new-look Clippers stood with arguably the best superstar duo in the NBA, as Kawhi is coming off a dominant season ending with his third championship and second Finals MVP, while George was named to his first All-NBA First Team in a breakout season.

There’s no doubt Ballmer and Rivers now believe they have the best team in a wide-open NBA, but Steph Curry and Draymond Green may have something to say about that when the Warriors and Clippers face off in the first regular-season NBA game at Chase Center on Oct. 24.