Games with a halftime score of 59-27 usually aren’t going to entertain most NBA fans. But thanks to the Phoenix Suns beating the Portland Trail Blazers on the road, all the Golden State Warriors had to do last night was complete their season sweep of the Sacramento Kings to move within 1.5 games of Rip City for the fifth seed in the West. After opening a can of whoop-ass that would make Captain Insano jealous, suffice it to say there are plenty of satisfied Dubs fans today, even if a 102-69 dismantling wasn’t the most enthralling thing to watch.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, Harrison Barnes had 16 points off the bench and seven Golden State players finished in double figures. Even without Andrew Bogut and David Lee, the Dubs out-rebounded Sacramento 57-44. Even more impressive, the Warriors worked the ball extremely well and tallied 25 assists on 42 field goals, compared to the Kings’ 12 assists on 25 field goals. The Warriors also dominated in points in the paint without their big men, outscoring Sacramento 54-28 in the restricted area. The score got as bad as 70-29 in the third quarter. Also, Marreese Speights either baptized Travis Outlaw or sent him straight to the underworld. I can’t be sure which:
The game capped off a 4-0 season sweep of the Kings, who were led by DeMarcus Cousins‘ meager double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds. A home win against the lowly Kings may not seem like a big deal, but it was actually pretty important for three reasons: 1) It was without Bogut and Lee, which means the Dubs’ backup frontcourt can hold it’s own defensively, 2) it bridged the gap between the Dubs and Blazers for the West’s fifth spot and 3) it put a little bit more distance between Golden State and the Dallas Mavericks/Memphis Grizzlies/Phoenix Suns trio that is gunning for the West’s last two playoff spots.
Even better for the Warriors? The only two players to log more than 30 minutes in the game were Golden State’s two sophomores, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. Though Green has impressed with his defense and his ability to pretty much do it all for the Warriors off the bench, Barnes has largely struggled all season. With less than two years of experience under their belts, this kind of game that was over at halftime gave the two players that need playing time the most some much-needed minutes.
Barnes hits a 3, gets a dunk. Horns honk, confetti flies, sailors kiss nurses in the street
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 5, 2014
Coming up, the Warriors have a pretty breezy schedule to end the 2013-14 regular season. Three of their final six games are at home and five of them are against non-playoff teams: the Utah Jazz, the Denver Nuggets (twice), the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. As for the one game that actually comes against a playoff game? That’s a road game against the very Portland Trail Blazers the Warriors could possibly overtake for the West’s fifth spot. A win in Rip city could very well help that idea become a reality.
Whether or not the Warriors want that spot remains to be seen, however. If the playoffs started today, the Dubs would take on the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, a team that is incredibly tough and peaking at the right time. With that being said, however, the Warriors-Clippers games this season have been high intensity affairs between two teams that really don’t like each other. As the Memphis Grizzlies have shown in the playoffs the past few seasons, the best way to beat the Clippers is to rough up Blake Griffin and play physical and angry. Get under Lob City’s skin and the wheels start to come off.
Since the Golden State Warriors have already experimented with this during the regular season, no one would be surprised to see it happen again in the postseason. The Warriors split the regular season series against LAC 2-2, which is probably preferable to their 1-2 record against the Houston Rockets, who would be their first-round opponent if the Dubs climbed their way to the fifth spot in the West. Tanking games down the stretch of the season is frowned upon for teams that won’t make the playoffs, but for teams that are already basically in and want a better first round matchup? That might be a gray area we’re not ready to talk about yet.