This was a punch-the-clock, take-care-of-business game for the Golden State Warriors. And that’s exactly what they did, though they were a little bit late to work and didn’t really put in a full day. Facing a brutal upcoming two-week stretch, the Warriors handled the Brooklyn Nets 112-95 on Saturday at Oracle, and now it’s time to begin traversing the United States.
The Nets (9-49), with the worst record in the NBA, led the Warriors (49-9), with the best record in the NBA, 46-45 with four minutes left in the second quarter. But they were on the short end of a 17-5 run to end the period and went into intermission down 62-51.
From there, the Warriors remained in control, though they were never able to put the Nets all the way away. With the victory, the Warriors clinched a playoff spot — the earliest date that a team has clinched a postseason berth. Last year, Golden State clinched on Feb. 27.
Nevertheless, something didn’t seem quite right in the Warriors’ locker room after.
The Warriors will leave Sunday for a five-game road trip that begins with a back-to-back set against the 76ers and Wizards. From there, Golden State plays at Chicago, and then after a couple of days off they’ve got a back-to-back against the Knicks and Hawks.
Sure, that’s a pretty ordinary five-game roadie but then it gets crazy. After the game in Atlanta on Monday, March 6, the Warriors return to the Bay Area and play the Boston Celtics in Oakland two days later. Right after the game against the Celtics, Golden State heads out on the road again, this time for a brutal back-to-back at Minnesota and San Antonio.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s eight games in eight different cities.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said this stretch is “insane,” and his No. 1 priority will be making sure his team’s players get plenty of rest and stay healthy. To that end, he might have started the process on Saturday against the Nets, giving Kevin Durant the night off. Technically, Durant had a left hand contusion, but he played through it in Thursday’s win against the Clippers.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 27 points, and it was his three-point play and subsequent 3-point shot that put the stake in the Nets with three minutes remaining. Andre Iguodala had a season-high nine assists, but the Warriors showed they are susceptible to scoring droughts without Durant.
During the postgame show, reporter John Dickinson said there was an “odd vibe” in the locker room afterward. Perhaps some of it had to do with waiving guard Briante Weber, who was at the end of his second 10-day contract.
Kerr was emotional about having to let Weber go, and then later was curt answering a question about Draymond Green.
Brooklyn managed to hang around for much of the half despite absolutely atrocious play by center Brook Lopez. In 14 first-half minutes, Lopez went scoreless — on 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-2 from the foul line — had four turnovers and got one lonely rebound.
Lopez finished with just nine points on 3-for-13 from the field and just four rebounds in 31 minutes. The Nets will remain in Northern California until Wednesday when they play the Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be hitting the road in a big way.
The Warriors waived Briante Weber after the game and Steve Kerr said the Warriors would be signing a point guard. According to multiple reports that point guard is Jose Calderon.