Kurtenbach: What we learned in the Warriors win over the Bucks
The Warriors bounced back from an embarrassing loss to the Clippers Wednesday with a 108-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks that was closer than the scoreline indicated.
The Warriors used a big fourth quarter — led by Kevin Durant, who had 26 points in the game — to get past a Milwaukee team that frustrated Golden State until the final frame.
Here’s what we learned in the first game of the Warriors’ five-game road trip:
The Warriors really missed Stephen Curry
The Bucks are long. They’re young and athletic. They dare teams to play isolation basketball, and there were stretches where the Warriors obliged on Friday.
But without Stephen Curry in the lineup, the Warriors struggled with spacing and shot creating, not only for themselves (Kevin Durant excluded) but for their teammates, too.
The Warriors made only five 3-pointers on Friday, their second-lowest total of the season. What’s more telling is that the Warriors only attempted 15 3-pointers on Friday, by far their lowest total of the season. (The low point, heading into Friday, was 20.)
So much of that has to do with Curry.
The way you challenge a long defensive team is to stretch them out. Yes, teams like the Bucks can defend on the perimeter better than most because of their length, but those long teams are also better than most in the paint. Length is a tremendous asset without a downside (so far as I can tell) in basketball.
But the further out you force a long team to defend, the less clogged the entire court becomes by their arms and feet, and the more driving and passing lanes are created on offense.
Letting Curry be a dribble-drive point guard against a long team is something close to kryptonite — not only does he draw a defense out towards half court, but his ability to drive and finish or drive and kick is elite. He not only stretches defense better than anyone in the league (and perhaps better than anyone in NBA history), he can collapse them with the best of the best, too.
The Warriors have missed Curry with him out the lineup — how could you not miss a two-time MVP? But in no game has the absence been more evident than Friday’s contest.
Without Curry, the Warriors never tested the pliability of the…