Charlotte’s and Golden State’s game could have been stopped after six minutes of play. Nothing seemed to indicate that there would be any tight contest after the Warriors had gone up 29-9 with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
The Hornets wouldn’t even cut the deficit below -15, a mark the visitors reached early in the second quarter (26-41) and after a Treveon Graham 3-pointer in the last possession of the game.
This time around, there was no need for the Death Lineup to take matters in their own hands and the devastating unit only clocked two minutes and 54 seconds.
For that reason it makes sense just to look at those first minutes of the game and determine what turned this matchup into a quick blowout.
An open Stephen Curry 3-pointer on the first possession of the game foreshadowed the breakdowns that would follow. As you already know, you only need to lose focus for a second — like Kemba Walker did here — to give Curry a chance for an easy three points:
If you don’t hand over the Curry assignment to the next man with extreme care, he’ll burn you during that split second of daylight. Marvin Williams’s and Kemba’s switch back has to be absolutely seamless:
Normal defensive rules don’t apply to a matchup against the former MVP.
You’re typically taught to get back to the paint when running back on transition. Well, there has to be a certain discipline against the Warriors to get back, yet stay close to their shooters who are heading for a spot on the 3-point line:
We’re two and a half minutes in and the best 3-pointer shooter ever has already got himself three great looks for a 12-5 Warriors lead.
Add an unfortunate fall/illegal screen (Kevin Durant and Kemba Walker), an emergency close out (Nicolas Batum sensing the threat of Curry) and then necessary weak side help (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist probably preventing a Curry or JaVale McGee layup/dunk) to the equation and coach Steve Clifford has to call timeout before things get out of control:
It didn’t end there, of course. Other mishaps only followed, like MKG getting a bit too careless with his ball-watching from the weak side and awarding Klay Thompson a corner 3-point look:
Those are the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors for you. Get them in the wrong place at the wrong time and it will turn into a farce very quickly.
NBA basketball shouldn’t consist of 20-point deficits after a half of a quarter. However, it almost seemed logical for a stumbling Charlotte Hornets team coming in after five straight losses, playing on the second night of a back-to-back and missing their ultimate gel man in Cody Zeller.
This team obviously wasn’t ready to at least somewhat slow down the Warriors offense on this given night.
Some other observations:
Even though the premise of this article was to focus on the first minutes of the game, it’s tempting to highlight the following play:
The lack of alertness by Ramon Sessions is indicative of Charlotte’s effort and attention to detail on certain plays last night.
At the risk of sounding like some talking head, you cannot be so lackadaisical in transition defense when your assignment is Stephen Curry. Point towards him and yell at a teammate to pick him up. Or, you know, try to at least sprint back.
Maybe that’s why Sesh didn’t see the court in the second half, while Brian Roberts clocked 15 minutes.
On a related note, the extended garbage time gave coach Clifford the chance to play Christian Wood, whose averages of 19 and 10 in the D-League render him as an intriguing prospect.
Congratulations to Christian for his first Charlotte Hornets points!
Lastly, it’s a shame that a quality Frank Kaminsky performance — with him rightfully playing as the second-unit five against the Dubs and Roy Hibbert earning a DNP-CD — came in such a forgettable game.