Warriors Battle Miami in Defensive Slugfest, Win 97-80
The Warriors, coming off an undefeated road trip, looked to continue their winning ways against the Miami Heat. The Heat were without Dion Waiters, but they looked to slow down the pace of play and try to take the Warriors out of it. The game was host to aggressive play on defense from both teams, but the Warriors were able to pull away late to win the game 97-80.
The first quarter saw the Warriors shoot the ball terribly. They hit their first two shots of the game, but ended the quarter shooting 29.2 as a team from the field, and 22.2 from three. Draymond Green was the only starter making shots consistently, ending the quarter with 8 points, 6 of which came from behind the arc. The Heat made it their mission to slow down the pace of play during the first quarter, and they succeeded. They took the Warriors away from their style of play, forcing them to play Isoball instead of passing, and they only had 4 assists in the quarter. The Warriors still managed to lead after the opening quarter, 22-21.
The second quarter saw the Warriors outscore the Heat 28-16. The Warriors still did not shoot well from the field, but did raise their shooting percentage from 29.2% to 36.4%. Draymond Green continued to pace the team offensively, finishing the half with 13 points on 50% shooting. The Heat played good defense on the Warriors throughout the whole half, forcing them to commit 9 turnovers, and blocking 3 shots. Kevin Durant continued to add to his blocking stats, picking up three in the first half. Steph and Klay both shot the ball poorly, combining to go 4-17, with 11 points between them. The Heat did a good job of controlling the pace of the game throughout the half, but in the last five minutes of the second quarter, the Warriors went on a run to build their lead. They still led going into halftime, 50-37.
The third quarter was more of the same from the Warriors and the Heat. The Heat continued to play physical, and didn’t let the Warriors get any momentum going, and they forced Draymond Green into picking up his fourth foul of the game very early in the quarter. The Warriors continued to shoot the ball horrendously, shooting 36.4% overall, and 30.4% from three point range. Only one starter for the Warriors shot the ball at 50% or better through the third, and the one guy was Draymond Green, who hardly played in the third. KD, Klay, and Steph shot 12-39, and look sloppy for the most part. The Warriors did play good defense on the heat, holding them to just 20 points in the third quarter, and led going into the fourth, 75-57.
The fourth quarter saw the Warriors’ lead shrink to 10 points, but then quickly get back to over 20. The Heat continued to slow things down and play tough defense, but the Warriors were able to grind out the win, 97-80.
The leading scorer for the Warriors was Kevin Durant, with 21 points, 10 of which came on free throws. Draymond Green hit four threes, his highest total of the season, and played spectacular defense. The Warriors did turn the ball over 14 times, but the Heat turned the ball over 20 times, so the Warriors’ turnovers were negated by their strong defense against Miami. The Warriors blocked 10 shots, and it looks as if their defense has turned a corner. Now, the Heat aren’t the best offensive team in the league, but they were still able to hold them to 80 points, and played really good defense. The Warriors had less than 30 turnovers for the first time in a while, but that was mostly due to the aggressive nature of the Heat defense, forcing the Warriors into more isolation plays instead of quick passes creating open shots.
My takeaways from this game was that the Warriors’ defense has turned a corner, and it looks like the team cares about stopping opponents offense again. They were an outstanding defense last year, and early this year, they were allowing way more open shots, especially from beyond the arc, than in years past. Another takeaway from this game, and the last couple, are that Draymond Green is getting his offensive groove back. Last year, Draymond Green was abysmal from three, and he shot his worst percentage from deep since his rookie year at 30.8%. Draymond Green started the year shooting terribly from three. It could be best described as not being able to throw the ball in the ocean from a boat, but recently, he has been hitting his shots, and looks to be trending towards where his three point shooting was during the 2015-16 season.
Steph and Klay did not have good games shooting the ball, but I will attribute that to the aggressive defense of the Heat which didn’t allow them to get as many open looks. I expect them to bounce back and have big nights in their next game.
The Warriors were also held under 100 points for the first time all season.
The Warriors play next on Wednesday, November 8, against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m.