Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96 (Yahoo Sports)

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against the Orlando Magic during the game on November 26, 2014 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have had much to be thankful for this NBA season.


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Warriors Starting Five Destroying the Rest of the NBA

At 12-2 on the season, the Golden State Warriors are clearly the best team in the NBA heading into the holiday weekend. Now winners of seven in a row and with an average point differential in the double digits, the Warriors are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the top teams in the Association.

Golden State’s starters are just about lapping the five-man lineup field pic.twitter.com/QTs3ysI01W
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 26, 2014

This is an absolutely stunning list of stats from Ben Golliver of SI.com. And while it was released prior to Golden State’s 17-point win over Miami on Tuesday and dominating win over Orlando on Wednesday, it just goes to show you how dominating the Warriors starting-five has been.
To make matters even more interesting, the Warriors have been without two-time All-Star David Lee for all but seven minutes this season.
Golden State’s starting-five is combining for a PER of nearly 90 through 14 games. In addition to that, this group has also combined for

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Stephen Curry’s Wizardry Sparking Warriors’ Dominance and Tuesday NBA Takeways

It can be tempting, if you’re an NBA coach, to nitpick a loss to within an inch of absurdity—to dissect the dozens of different times your opponent beat you to the ball, an angle, a punch.

Then again, sometimes the answer is just this simple: Stephen Curry torched you, and you couldn’t do anything about it.

Such was the case Tuesday night, as the league’s foremost marksmen poured in a season-high 40 points on 12-of-19 shooting (including a silly 8-of-11 from distance) in the Golden State Warriors 114-97 win over the Miami Heat.

Oh, throw in six rebounds and seven assists, while we’re at it.

Curry’s eight three-pointers are tied for the most of any NBA player in a single contest this season, a blistering bullet point on a season resume growing gaudier by the game.

But Curry’s incendiaries amount to much more than mere fantasy fodder. Behind his silky-steady leadership, the Warriors—now 11-2 after their sixth consecutive win—have emerged as one of the league’s true elite teams.

So long as Curry remains at the reins, the label is liable to stick, believes first-year head coach Steve Kerr:

Kerr has plenty more to be thankful for, of course. Be it Klay Thompson’s next-level exploits, Andrew Bogut’s steady paint presence or Draymond Green’s five-tool fuel, Golden State can no longer be ignored on either end of the court.

Through Tuesday, the Warriors were just one of four teams (the Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies being the other three) to register in the top 10 for both offensive and defensive efficiency. They boast the league’s highest true-shooting percentage (58.3 percent) and assist rate (19.0). Some nights, they look like NBA 2K incarnate.

The other end may be even kinder. Over the course of their first 13 games, the Warriors are registering the league’s second-best defense (94.9 points per 100 possessions), holding their opponents to a league-low 40.8 percent from the field, per NBA.com.

For a while against the Heat, it looked as though that stinginess may have temporarily fallen by the wayside. It turns out “temporarily” may have been putting it lightly.

Golden State’s D might well be what drives it deep into June. But it’s by the deft right hand of Curry—wrist snapped quicker than a clap—that the team’s Finals designs might finally come true.

Recently, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley took a deep dive into what makes this Golden State team so special. His conclusion: The only things standing in the way of the Warriors and their first banner in 40 years are bad luck and mistakes of their own making.

If this team stays healthy, it has a real chance of setting the franchise record for wins. But its real measure of success won’t come until the second season.

If they want to be the best Warriors team ever, they need to send another banner up into the rafters. And they know it.

Scorching as their start has been, the Warriors know this Western Conference won’t be doing them any favors. Even if they stay healthy, the season is bound to yield its share of potholes and pitfalls—the necessary growing pains of a first-year coach trying to tie the loose ends his predecessor couldn’t.

Between their top-heavy scoring and 29th-ranked turnover rate, the Warriors have weaknesses enough to put them in some compromising corners.

Good thing, then, that their corner includes a dude custom-built—like some basketball Butch Cassidy hemmed in by chase-giving armies—to shoot his way out of anything, or die trying.

 

Around the Association

Boogie’s Revenge

It’s been one week since Anthony Davis propelled his New Orleans Pelicans to a 106-100 win over DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings.

In that time, the Legend of the Unibrow has taken on an even more mythical form. Which tends to happen when you’re in the midst of authoring arguably the finest season any 21-year-old has ever had.

But an old fogy Boogie is not, as evidenced by the burly center’s stellar performance in his team’s 99-89 revenge win in New Orleans Tuesday night. The final line: 22 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.

Consider the counterpunch landed.

Davis, by contrast, was eerily quiet (also a bit under the weather), finishing with 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go along with nine boards and a pair of blocks.

The duo’s status as studs—to say nothing of their Kentucky ties—all but guarantee a lifetime of nitpicking comparisons. And that’s fine. Just so long as we don’t forget to enjoy the real-time brilliance, however opposite the styles, these two frontcourt forces have to offer.

 

Backcourt Blues

On a night when the Splash Brothers combined for 64 points on 22-of-38 shooting with only five combined turnovers in an impressive Warriors road win, John Wall and Bradley Beal were doing pretty much the opposite of that.

The Washington Wizards duo committed 13 turnovers (while missing 19 of their 29 shots) en route to a 106-102 loss to Jeff Teague (28 points) and the Atlanta Hawks.

Guess that ends that debate. For the next 24 hours, at least.

Beal, who recently returned after missing the team’s first 10 games to recover from a left wrist injury, came off the bench for the third straight contest. We’re going to go out on a limb and say this won’t last long.

Wall and Beal emerged as one of the league’s best young backcourts a season ago—a terrifying confluence of speed, athleticism and smarts that put the entire league on immediate, nervous notice.

Tuesday’s dud was by no mean a harbinger of swoons to come. What it may have reinforced, though, is how delicate and tenuous a team’s backcourt chemistry can be.

Meanwhile, on a plane somewhere over Arkansas, Steph and Klay busy themselves finishing each other’s sentences.

 

Butler Needs a Butler

Because he’s about to get mad paid and you need something to spend money on that isn’t fancy cars and refrigerator-sized gumball machines, so what better than a Butler?

Which is going a long, weird way to say that Jimmy Butler has officially arrived.

The Chicago Bulls shooting guard was spectacular once again Tuesday, notching 32 points (which included a whopping 20 trips to the charity stripe) and nine boards in a 114-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets. It’s the ninth time this season that Butler has crested the 20-point threshold, after hitting that mark—wait for it—nine times over the last three seasons combined.

Take it away, Tom Thibodeau:

With Derrick Rose’s return having been more soap opera than sigh of relief, Butler’s ascendance has given Bulls fans a much-needed crutch on which to lean their future-focused gaze.

Assuming that, you know, Chicago finally comes to its senses.

Everyone knew Butler boasted next-level potential on defense. But it’s the other end of the floor that’s found the former Marquette standout making much-needed hay for the suddenly ascendant Bulls offense.

 

Why Are You Like This!?

And so we end this Tuesday Takeaways exactly where it began: with Stephen Curry doing silly, silly things.

An inquisitive mind might ask, “How does one defend against such wizardry?”

Simple: by making him spend the rest of his NBA days wearing a blindfold and roller skates.

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Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97 (Yahoo Sports)

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 25: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts to a play during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on November 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MIAMI (AP) — So much for Stephen Curry’s mini-shooting slump.


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Golden State Warriors vs. Miami Heat 11/25/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The red-hot Golden State Warriors downed the Miami Heat Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, 114-97, behind a season-high 40 points from Stephen Curry.

The Warriors guard hit that mark on a scorching 8-of-11 shooting performance from three-point range as Golden State improved to 11-2 on the strength of its sixth straight win.

Miami dropped to 8-7, while Chris Bosh had 26 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort.

Check out the video above for full highlights.

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Golden State Warriors vs. Miami Heat: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors (10-2) are on the road to take on Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat (8-6).

It’s the first meeting between the two this season.

 

Tipoff7:30 p.m. ET

Coverage: NBATV

 

Keys to the Game

With Dwyane Wade out with a hamstring injury, the Warriors can focus their solid defense on slowing down Bosh. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, two great interior defenders, will be charged with the task.

For the Heat, they need to find some source of offense beyond Bosh. Mario Chalmers has been that guy lately, averaging 20 points and seven assists over his last six games.

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Warriors Injury Update: Leandro Barbosa and Andrew Bogut are considered ‘questionable’ for tonight’s game vs. the Heat

The Golden State Warriors will put their impressive 10 – 2 record on the line today when they meet up with Chris Bosh and the 8 – 6 Miami Heat. Unfortunately, the Warriors will be without the services of both Leandro Barbosa and Andrew Bogut for today’s contest. Both players sustained injuries during Sunday’s 91 – 86 victory over the Thunder. Barbosa scored only one point before leaving with a right knee sprain six minutes into the first quarter, while Bogut played only eight minutes before suffering an orbital contusion. The good news is, according to R.J. White of CBS Sports, the CT scan on Bogut’s head came back negative. As reported by our very own KKauffman1969, David Lee will remain ‘out’ and likely won’t return until sometime in December. 
Today’s tip-off between the Warriors and the Heat is scheduled for 4:30 PM EST and can be found on NBA TV. Follow @RyJones4 Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our email list for daily injury updates! Email Add

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Warriors Injury Update: David Lee will not play tonight, likely ‘out’ until December

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday by the score of 91-86. The win improved the Warriors to 10-2, first in the Pacific Division. Marreese Speights lead the Warriors with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting in 28 minutes off the bench. The Warriors continue to impress, despite the absence of David Lee, who will be out again tonight against the Heat and likely out until next month. By nikk_la via Wikimedia CommonsI reported on November 21 that Lee, who has only played a quarter of the first game before aggravating a hamstring injury, was hoping to return this week.Ira Winderman, who covers the Miami Heat for South Florida Sun Sentinel, confirmed Lee’s status with this tweet.David Lee remains out, with Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa listed as questionable for Warriors Tue. vs. Heat due to injuries sustained Sunday— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 24, 2014Rusty Simmons of SFGate noted that Lee is making progress in his recovery from a left hamstring injury, but isn’t sure wh

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Warriors’ Marreese Speights: Kendrick Perkins ‘Thinks He’s A Tough Guy’

Marreese Speights had a big game off the bench for the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, and he might have Kendrick Perkins to thank for it.
The Warriors’ usually dominant offense was rather quiet in their 91-86 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the big man came in and scored a season-high 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting in 25 minutes on the court. And Speights said after the game that OKC’s center was fueling his fire.
“(Perkins) thinks he’s a tough guy, but at the end of the day, his game is terrible,” Speights told the Bay Area News Group. “He always has got something to say to me every time we play against each other.
“Always getting me going, so shout-out to Perkins again, who made me get this good game.”
Yahoo! Sports did the math, and it turns out that Speights’ statistics actually have been better when he’s faced Perkins’ teams. That should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as that doesn’t mean that Speights and Perk were matched up every time.
Still, it sounds as t

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Why This Could Be the Best Golden State Warriors Team Ever

The NBA has never seen the Golden State Warriors quite like this.

Under first-year coach Steve Kerr, the Dubs have stormed out to their strongest start in franchise history (10-2). And there are reasons to believe this group can maintain this level of standard-setting play over the course of this 82-game marathon.

It starts with balance. The Warriors have it between their dominant defense and explosive offense, between their stellar starting five and fully loaded second team. Both top-heavy and deep, they have one-punch-knockout power and the endurance to survive a 12-round war.

That combination isn’t one known by this generation of Golden State faithful. The Warriors have occasionally fielded an exciting team, but typically that sizzle has come without any real substance behind it.

So much as they can this early in the season, they have hinted at having both flair and function this time around. They are unrecognizable in a good way.

The Warriors have been plenty of different things during their 69-year history, but greatness has rarely been a part of their identity. That could all change this season, in what could be their finest year of existence.

 

Golden Roster

If the season ended today, the Warriors could make a killing on the year-end award circuit.

Stephen Curry has performed at an MVP level. The 26-year-old holds top-10 rankings in points (22.6, seventh), assists (7.8, tied for fifth), steals (2.2, tied for third) and player-efficiency rating (25.2, fifth). His 5.5 rebounds per game are tied for the fourth-most among point guards.

“We thought we knew how good Stephen Curry could be,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes. “It turns out we had no idea.”

Curry has even started defending at an impressive level. Opposing point guards are managing a slightly above-average 16.7 PER against him, per 82games.com, a number that is better than it sounds considering the Warriors are no longer hiding him from tough assignments.

About the only thing Curry hasn’t done yet is shoot at an elite level. While his 47.2 field-goal percentage outpaces his career 46.7 percent mark, his 38.9 three-point percentage has dipped lower than it’s ever been. Given that he converted 44.0 percent of his triples over the past five seasons, it’s safe to assume his current rate has significant upward mobility.

And Curry is far from being this team’s only award candidate.

Center Andrew Bogut has forced his way into the Defensive Player of the Year race.

The Warriors lead the league with a 94.4 defensive rating. That number drops to just 90.4 during Bogut‘s minutes and jumps to 98.9 when the seven-footer sits.

Bogut ranks eighth in blocked shots (1.8) and 15th in rebounds (9.2). If those stats don’t immediately jump off the page, they might do exactly that when one realizes he is logging only 25.3 minutes a night. Under a per-36-minute lens, Bogut has averaged 13.0 boards, 2.5 blocks and 1.1 steals.

He has also held opponents to 41.4 percent shooting at the rim, per NBA.com’s player tracking data. That’s a better mark than the ones yielded by fellow interior presences Tim Duncan (42.3), Marc Gasol (47.6) and Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Anthony Davis (51.6).

“Since Bogut has been with the Warriors, he’s been irreplaceable as the team’s defensive anchor,” wrote Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Four different Warriors could make compelling cases for Most Improved Player honors: Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights.

The first three have helped give Golden State a wrecking ball of a starting lineup. With Thompson, Green, Curry, Bogut and Barnes on the floor, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by an astounding 28.6 points per 100 possessions.

Speights, on the other hand, has been a stabilizing presence on a second unit still integrating several moving parts. The Warriors have desperately needed someone to consistently produce off the pine, and Speights has embraced that challenge.

“He’s my new favorite player, Mo Speights,” Kerr said, per Bay Area News Group’s Diamond Leung. “He’s amazing. He just keeps producing every time we throw him out there.”

Speights looks substantially better than he did last season. Ditto for Thompson, Green and Barnes.

The Warriors could also find multiple candidates for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Assuming David Lee embraces a reserve role once he puts his hamstring problem behind him, the Warriors could pull two former All-Stars off the bench: Lee and Andre Iguodala. It could be a bumpy transition for both—Iguodala has started showing signs of life after a really rough beginning—but they could have as much talent as any second-team tandem in the league.

The Warriors players may wind up with their fingerprints all over these individual honors. And they can thank Kerr, a surefire Coach of the Year candidate, and his heavyweight assistant staff for that.

 

Solving the Puzzle

Talent is a necessary ingredient of any championship recipe. It takes a superstar to contend for a title, and typically a couple of them to actually raise a banner.

So, the Warriors wouldn’t find themselves in this position had the front office failed to assemble such a skilled set of players. But they also wouldn’t be on pace to have their best campaign in franchise history without Kerr and Co. putting all of the pieces in the right places.

Bogut has benefited as much as anyone from Kerr’s arrival.

The big man was a critical component of former coach Mark Jackson’s plan, but Bogut‘s impact was restricted to the defensive end of the floor.

Kerr ripped that restriction off quickly, and Bogut has been freed to tap into his deep bag of offensive tricks. On a per-36-minute basis, he is scoring (11.4), shooting (8.9 field-goal attempts) and assisting (3.9) more than he has at any point since joining the Warriors in March of 2012.

“They’re running me in the high post a lot more and utilizing my passing and it’s been great so far,” Bogut told Melbourne radio station SEN, per The Age‘s Ronny Lerner. “Steve Kerr’s turned around my career and getting me back involved offensively, too, helps.”

Similar success stories can be found up and down this roster. It is the overall effect of using a stronger commitment to ball movement in order to take advantage of the many offensive weapons on this team.

Under Kerr, the Warriors are averaging 316.9 passes per game, which is 11th-most in the NBA. Their 60.6 points created by assist per game are the highest in the league.

Last season, Golden State finished dead-last with only 245.8 passes a night. The Warriors turned those passes into 54.9 points off assists, which tied for eighth-most.

There are fewer isolation looks, fewer opportunities for the ball to stick. This offense is poetry in motion when everything is clicking.

“There are moments when the Warriors’ offense looks like it was shot with the time-lapse video feature on the new iPhone,” wrote ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande. “Nothing lasts long, especially not individual possession of the ball.”

Kerr and his staff, headlined by offensive genius Alvin Gentry and defensive guru Ron Adams, have shown an understanding of how to put these players in position for success.

Curry, as he should, still has a fluorescent green light. The same goes for Thompson, who was combined with his brother in splash to attempt 14.4 threes a night and convert 5.9 of them.

But the Warriors have helped expand Thompson’s offensive impact. He’s still seeking out shots from distance, but he has traded his mid-range looks for attacks of the basket. Exactly 30 percent of his attempts have come within 10 feet of the goal, up from 22.3 percent last season.

Those aggressive drives have also netted him a personal-best 5.5 free throws a night. His previous high was 2.3. Considering he’s a career 83.4 percent shooter at the line, those are essentially free points—and momentum boosts.

“Getting to the line is huge because it gets you in a rhythm, you see the ball go in,” Thompson said, per Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, ”and it’s something I really haven’t been doing the last three years.”

Aggressiveness has had its perks beyond the charity stripe for Thompson, too.

Kerr has allowed Green to take on a bigger role, and the versatile forward has responded with a career-high 14.9 assist percentage. Barnes, now back with the starters, has played off others to take better advantage of his slashing and spot-up shooting skills. Over 70 percent of his two-point baskets have come off assists, up from 49.3 last season. As a result, he’s posting career marks across the board as a shooter.

Iguodala has spent more time on the ball now that he’s the focal point of the reserve unit. Both he and newcomer Shaun Livingston have also had the opportunity to create shots for Curry and Thompson in staggered starter-reserve lineups that Kerr utilizes far more than his predecessor.

Speights looks like a completely different player under Kerr. Leandro Barbosa has his highest field-goal percentage since 2008-09. Everybody on the team is running, as evidenced by Golden State’s league-high 101.56 possessions per 48 minutes.

This team feels as if it’s starting to realize its full potential. It seems like it’s destined to become the best Warriors squad the basketball world has ever seen.

 

Setting the Bar and Exceeding It

Judging by their recent history—three playoff trips in the last 20 years—it may seem as if being the best Warriors team of all-time really isn’t much to brag about.

But if you dig back further into the history books, the Dubs have fielded some dominant teams.

They have three championships in their past: 1947 (BAA), 1956 and 1975. They have won 50-plus games on five different occasions, twice reaching the 55-win mark (1976 and 1992). Their 1975-76 group, led by Hall of Famers Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes, had the league’s most efficient defense and second-most efficient offense, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway powered the Warriors to 44 highly entertaining wins in 1990-91. Mullin and Hardaway helped them to 55 victories the following two seasons. But both seasons produced a whopping one playoff series win. That was one more than they managed with Mullin, Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell in 1993-94.

There have been some good Warriors teams and a handful of great ones. But this has a legitimate chance to top them all.

The Warriors are currently reeling off victories at an 83.3 percent clip. For context, that would equate to a 68-win season. The franchise record for wins is 59.

It’s tempting to assume the Warriors will slow down at some point, but that’s far from being a guarantee.

They have played a tough schedule out of the gate. One of their two losses came on the second night of a road back-to-back series (against a good Phoenix Suns team), and the other came against the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors could get better from here.

Remember, Lee has only played seven minutes on the season. His rebounding and low-post scoring would both provide boosts to this team no matter how he’s used. Iguodala should become more comfortable in his reserve role as the season progresses. Livingston and Barbosa are still getting used to their new surroundings. And Festus Ezeli has plenty of rust to shake off after missing the entire 2013-14 campaign.

If this team stays healthy, it has a real chance of setting the franchise record for wins. But its real measure of success won’t come until the second season.

If they want to be the best Warriors team ever, they need to send another banner up into the rafters. And they know it.

“You’re proud of it, but that’s about as far as it goes,” Curry said of the team’s strong start, per Leung. “You’ve got to capitalize on this start and be ready every single game until that last game in June hopefully.”

It’s been a long time since the Warriors could vocalize championship goals and not be laughed out of the gym. But this group has the chance to be better than every one that came before it.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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