BY MASON BISSADA
Despite a disheartening 113-101 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday night, Warriors fans at Chase Center were all smiles as they welcomed home former Warrior Andre Iguodala in his first matchup against Golden State in nearly seven years.
Iguodala, who was recently traded to the Miami Heat after sitting out half the season as an inactive member of the Memphis Grizzlies, was given a touching video tribute before tipoff that celebrated his time in the Bay Area. He was then welcomed to center court by former teammate Klay Thompson, who showed nothing but love for the 2015 Finals MVP.
“It’s good to have you back ‘Dre,” Thompson said to mass applause. “And I can’t wait to see your jersey in the rafters one of these days.”
Iguodala returned the compliment, promising fans that “my brothers [Thompson and Steph Curry] will be back in action, full throttle next year to wreak havoc on the league for 80 games” (excluding the two in which the Warriors play the Heat). When Iguodala checked into the game midway through the first quarter, Chase Center showered him with the loudest applause of the night.
As for the game itself, Golden State’s short lived resilience was no match for the Heat, who were in desperate need of a win after losing their last three games in a row. After Golden State’s bench gave up a 16-0 run in the second quarter, the Warriors starters responded with a third quarter run of their own to cut the deficit to four points. This run was led largely by Andrew Wiggins, who scored 14 points in the third quarter alone and had 18 points on the night in his second game as a Warrior.
“I thought his play reflected ours,” Steve Kerr said postgame. “We got nothing going in the first half and then in the third quarter, when we started really competing and playing with pace, that’s when Andrew got going.”
Just as it did in the second quarter, Golden State’s bench (consisting of G-League call-ups) negated the progress that the starters made in the fourth quarter. Miami’s depth (or Golden State’s lack thereof) proved to be the difference in the end. Iguodala, despite playing just 16 minutes, was a +25 on the night, while Juan Toscano-Anderson was a game-low -18. All of Golden State’s starters (besides Ky Bowman) were actually net-positives for the game.
Damion Lee was a bright spot for the Warriors, scoring a career-high 26 points on 7-12 shooting and hitting five of his seven 3-point attempts. Lee’s floor spacing is essential, particularly when Draymond Green is running in transition and playing point-forward. Green, who grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists, was looking for corner shooters off of every Heat miss. When Lee is feeling it from deep, he and Green make a nice pairing.
Marquese Chriss continues to shine after securing a multi-year contract, scoring a solid 17 points (including a nasty dunk on Miami’s Duncan Robinson) to go along with nine rebounds. Though his rim protection is shaky (Miami scored 50 points in the paint) he has some offensive ability as a lob threat and even an occasional post-up option.
Jimmy Butler led the way for the Heat, tallying a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double. The five-time All-Star didn’t even need to attempt a 3-pointer to be effective. When he wasn’t driving towards the rim, Butler went to work in the midrange going 9-15 from the field.
Jae Crowder, who was packaged with Iguodala in the trade from Memphis, also scored 21 points off the bench, hitting four of his eight 3-pointers. Bam Adebayo also left his mark, logging a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double. What was equally impressive was Adebayo’s passing ability. He dropped seven dimes, either finding teammates in transition or off of backdoor cuts in the post. He even found teammate Derrick Jones Jr. for a ridiculous lob dunk. Adebayo’s court vision may remind Warriors fans of another passing big: Draymond Green.
“Well, I think the similarity is the playmaking,” Steve Kerr said when comparing the two players. “It’s rare to have a combination of playmaking big and a guy that can defend the paint. It’s not something you see very often. Bam has had a fantastic season and I think Miami is playing quite a bit like we have played over the last five years and Bam is at the center of that offense like Draymond has been. It’s a good comparison.”
Golden State must once again retool and relearn their offensive and defensive schemes with the addition of so many new players (particularly Wiggins). This is difficult to do on the fly while facing teams like the Heat who have a clear identity and are fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Every game from here on out is a learning process, but the Warriors may accumulate quite a few losses along the way.
The Warriors will next take the short flight to Phoenix to face off against the Suns on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in their last game before the All-Star break.
The Warriors tied their season-low mark for field goals made with just 30 (30-77, 39%).
Tonight’s loss insures that the Warriors will have a losing record for the first time since the 2011-12 season, when they went 23-43 in a lockout year.
Prior to tonight’s matchup, Golden State had won five consecutive home games against the Miami Heat, along with eight of their last 11 matchups overall.
Tonight marks the first time Miami has swept the season series against the Warriors since the 2010-11 season.
Exactly three years ago, Draymond Green made history by becoming the first player in league history to record a triple-double without scoring double-digit points. Green recorded 10 steals (a franchise record) 10 assists and 11 rebounds. In that same game, Green was just one point away from a five-by-five (five or more in five box score categories) as he also recorded four points and five blocks. Green was the first player to record double digit steals and at least five blocks since the NBA began tracking steals and blocks in 1973-74.