At 27-5, the Warriors haven’t had a lot of games that have come down to crunch time. But in the few they’ve had, they haven’t done particularly well — at the offensive end at least. We’re still talking about a championship-quality team here so that doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily lost these games. Nope, in most of them their defense — i.e. Draymond Green — came through.
Still, with a team boasting three prolific scorers and one uniquely versatile power forward, you’d figure the Warriors would be a little better scoring when a game is on the line. Then again, they don’t have a lot of games that come down to the final minute or two. So they don’t get a lot of practice on them.
We all know this version of the Warriors is only 32 games in. They’re bound to get more cohesive at the offensive end as the season goes on. So, if you’re looking for a little optimism after the killer loss to Cleveland, how about this: The Warriors are likely to get a lot better at the offensive end in tight games.
By the way, you’re definition and my definition of crunch time may differ. Were there games when the Warriors needed a bucket at crucial times and got it? Sure. But these particular games were a possession or two from getting a different result.
Let’s take a closer look:
Nov. 19: At Milwaukee (Warriors 124, Bucks 121) — The Warriors were already a dozen games into the season before they found themselves in a one-possession game this late. The Warriors were up 14 with seven minutes remaining when the Bucks started putting pressure on. By the three-minute mark it had become a three-point game. With 2:47 left, Stephen Curry hit a jumper to put the Warriors up five. From that point on, the Warriors go 0-for-5 from the field with a turnover. They win the game when Green makes a steal off an inbounds play in the final seconds with the Warriors up two.
Nov. 28: Vs. Atlanta (Warriors 105, Hawks 100) — After Curry makes a 3-pointer with three minutes left, the Warriors finish by going 1-for-6 from the field as a team, with a turnover. Green makes two terrific defensive plays late — one on Dennis Schroder, the other on Kent Bazemore — to keep the Warriors on top.
Dec. 1: Vs. Houston (Rockets 132, Warriors 127 2OT) — In fairness, this game had a lot of big moments, in regulation and both overtimes, so it’s not like the Warriors didn’t get anything done when the game mattered. The game mattered a few times. Nevertheless, the high-powered Warriors went just 1-for-11 and scored just four points in the second overtime on their way to a home loss.
Dec. 13: At New Orleans (Warriors 113, Pelicans 109) — Curry hit a 20-footer with 3:14 remaining to give the Warriors a 109-108 lead. From that point on, here were the Warriors’ possessions: Klay Thompson turnover, Thompson 3-point miss; Curry drive for basket; Thompson 3-point miss; Thompson 3-point miss; Durant miss; Curry miss; Durant miss. That’s 1-for-7 with a turnover. Still after all of that, the Warriors escaped with a win when Green stole the ball from Anthony Davis on New Orleans’ last possession. The play was later ruled a foul by the NBA.
Dec. 23: At Detroit (Warriors 119, Detroit 113) — This one doesn’t fit into the box. The Warriors were efficient and executed down the stretch against the Pistons, scoring on 5 of their last 6 possessions.
Dec. 25: At Cleveland (Cavaliers 109, Warriors 108) — The Warriors scored in just two of their final eight possessions — an uncontested dunk off a wonderfully drawn up play by Steve Kerr and Curry’s 3 which put the Warriors up three with 1:14 left. But they committed two turnovers in the final 45 seconds, including a shot-clock violation with 13 seconds left.