Three Takeaways from NBA Thursday: When will the Warriors lose a game?
Just three games on the schedule Thursday night, but if you were watching Rex Ryan get revenge then you missed a few things worth discussing, so here is a little wrap-up of three things to take away from the NBA slate of games:
1) When will the Warriors lose a game? Golden State is 10-0 after knocking off the upstart Timberwolves 129-116 Thursday. The Warriors aren’t just winning, they are dominating, having beaten opponents by an averaged of 17.1 points per game (17.2 points per 100 possessions). They have the top-ranked offense in the NBA and second-ranked defense (based on points per possession, stats via NBA.com). Stephen Curry has come back from his MVP season improved, and the Warriors’ team is not looking to coast through the early part of the schedule. It begs the question:
When will the Warriors lose a game?
Not this Saturday, when they host the lowly Nets. Probably not next Tuesday when they host Toronto (if DeMarre Carroll is back for the Raptors that game gets more interesting, but I’ll still take the Warriors). However, then comes a three-game stretch where I think the Warriors stumble for the first time.
Thu, Nov 19: at L.A. Clippers
Fri, Nov 20: Chicago Bulls
Sun, Nov 22: at Denver Nuggets
The Clippers are legit and — if Paul and Redick are healthy — they are capable of beating the Warriors on a given night. The Bulls still may be figuring rotations/chemistry out, but they are sixth in the NBA in defense, they have flashes of great offense, and with the Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back this could be the game. Denver has been middle of the pack on offense and defense, but they have shown flashes, and it’s the third game in four nights for the Warriors, plus this game is being played at altitude in Denver. That could lead to a one-off performance.
If they don’t stumble in those three and get to what would be 15-0, then it could be a little while as the schedule softens up. And at that point I’ll start entertaining a discussion of 70+ wins, not before.
2) Just a reminder that Stephen Curry is a basketball-shooting cyborg who cannot miss. Well, he does miss some shots — he was 15-of-25 on his way to 46 points Thursday — but that may just be part of the programming to throw us off, to make him look more human so we don’t get suspicious. Here are all his buckets from Thursday night, you be the judge.
3) Game summary: Blake Griffin got tossed for Clippers, Suns guards could not miss. Nobody should read much into the late TNT game regarding it being predictive. The Clippers started the night without Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, and that gave the Suns’ backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight a chance to take over. But there are two things of note from the Suns comfortable win over the Clippers, 118-104.
First, Blake Griffin got ejected, picking up two first-half technicals.
Doc Rivers and the Clippers didn’t like that call, saying the rule about if a player showing up an official is inconsistently enforced (he’ll get fined for that). My take on this is a little more nuanced (and has two parts): First, I don’t think what Griffin did in this specific instance was worthy of a technical, especially not a second one that sends him to the showers. Rivers is right that the rule about what constitutes showing up an official is applied inconsistently. This was a quick trigger — but the Clippers bring this on themselves. That’s the second part of this. No team in the NBA is as demonstrative at whining about calls game in/game out as the Clippers, and Griffin is at the forefront of that (with Rivers right behind him). Griffin’s incessant complaining pushes up against the “showing up the official” line nightly, so he should understand that he’s going to occasionally step over that line. More importantly, his behavior does not endear or make officials give him the benefit of the doubt — they are humans who get sick of being jawed at like anyone. Griffin wears on them nightly, and this is the occasional price. He shares blame here, even if you can say this particular instance was out of line.
The big takeaway: Griffin getting ejected did not decide this game. They were already behind when it happened. Without CP3 and Redick, Suns’ guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight took over this game from the start — they combined for 63 points and 13 assists. That’s why the Suns won this game; they got phenomenal guard play that the Clippers could not stop or match. Those two earned the Suns a quality win at home.