LOS ANGELES — The Golden State Warriors have changed the way game is played.
Now they have the power to change even more—including the baseline for integrity of the game—with the example they choose to set with their dominance.
The Warriors crushed the spirit of the Los Angeles Clippers, 115-98, on Wednesday night, which is what the Warriors are used to doing via their many blowout victories the past several years.
Golden State’s passing show and shooting audacity have initiated a literal change of pace in the NBA that is being copied but not truly duplicated. Right now, no team has at least 30 assists in five games except the Warriors, who’ve done it 16 times already—out of 22 games.
Even if they didn’t repeat as NBA champions after their historic 73-victory regular season and aren’t pushing hard early on this year, the Warriors are more loaded than ever with Kevin Durant. They are more capable than ever of crushing spirits and embarrassing opponents. And they are more inspiring than ever with performances of unimaginable beauty and prolificacy.
Klay Thompson’s 60-point performance in 29 minutes of play Monday was a taste of that. The must-see moment could’ve been allowed to grow into even more, but he was kept on the bench for the fourth quarter.
That’s why the way the Warriors choose to flex their crazy muscles this season will be watched closely—and may dictate whether the tenets of the so-called basketball gods are ready to be changed in this new era of video-game basketball.
Klay’s father, former NBA player Mychal Thompson, said it was “a no-brainer” to stop Klay’s magical run Monday and for Warriors coach Steve Kerr to sit Klay the final quarter against the overwhelmed Indiana Pacers.
“Up 30, it would’ve been a circus running him around screens,” Mychal said. “It’s just not something you do.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers agreed, saying it would have been “bad form” to rub it in that way, even though Rivers applauded the Warriors for finding Thompson’s hot hand with so many passes.
“Usually a team gets in the way of a guy having a big night,” Rivers said.
See, that’s the thing: These epic individual nights are indeed so rare that a valid case can be made for maximizing them.
The Warriors are going to have plenty of nights to rest Thompson and the other top players in fourth quarters.
But even on Wednesday night, with another game looming Thursday in Utah, Kerr sent Curry back into the game Wednesday—to join three other Golden State starters—with 4:47 left and a 107-89 lead over the Clippers. It was hardly a perilous situation, but valid justification existed. Isn’t it useful in the long run to let those on the court build chemistry with rookie Patrick McCaw instead of Kevin Durant out there?
So would it have really been that much worse to let Thompson play it out in a similar experimental manner when he had 60 already—and see what happened for him?
You would absolutely keep him out there if you were playing as Thompson and the Warriors in NBA 2K17 against your buddy, right? It’s a no-brainer.
Well, old-school NBA thinking from …