Barber: Warriors overcome dog days, beat Heat 120-118
The Warriors had a little internal debate about dog days Sunday night.
Before the game against the Miami Heat at Oracle Arena, coach Steve Kerr was talking about DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors center célèbre.
“He’s basically singlehandedly negated the dog days,” Kerr said. “He really has. These last games, before the All-Star break, usually from mid-January on, you have about a three- or four-week stretch where you are just dying to get to the break, but we have bypassed that. DeMarcus has come in and energized our team.”
But after the game — after the Warriors had clawed back from a 19-point deficit and outlasted, rather than vanquished, the Heat — forward Draymond Green offered a rebuttal when someone asked him about his team’s recent slow starts.
“You want my honest opinion?” Green asked.
Uh, has anyone ever wanted anything else from Draymond Green?
“My honest opinion, it’s the dog days right now,” he continued. “You usually hit that in January. We haven’t really hit that, because we got DeMarcus back, so it kind of gave us an extra boost. We there right now.”
Kerr is a smart man and an astute observer of human psychology, but I’m with Draymond on this one. Cousins did indeed light a fire under the Warriors when he joined the starting lineup in mid-January. But do you hear that barking in the background? The dog days have definitely arrived.
The Warriors have won 14 of their past 15 games, reasserting their dominance over the NBA. But they are not at a crescendo right now. Friday in Phoenix, they trailed the awful, awful Suns by three points going into the fourth quarter before rushing back to win by 10.
“We came out playing like (bleep) tonight,” Cousins said after that game, as quoted by The Athletic. “Myself, everybody. (Kevin Durant) kind of hollered at me during the game, like, ‘We got to get our energy up.’ I agreed with him 100 percent.”
The Warriors were nowhere near their peak on Sunday, either. The Heat aren’t terrible. They’re right around .500. But they’re a team the Warriors should handle at home. Golden State did win, 120-118, but it was a treacherous game that easily could have gone the other way. Miami was up 118-115 with 50 seconds left, before a step-back 3-pointer by Durant, an offensive rebound and made free throws by Cousins, and a couple of misses by the Heat.
That’s back-to-back — well, “stinkers” might be the wrong word, but the scent hasn’t been delightful.
True, the Warriors did some things right Sunday. They shot better than 53 percent as a team, and in the second half they started passing the ball like we’ve come to expect. Durant was money down the stretch. But they got outworked most of the night. The Heat had a rebounding edge of 50-36, and an advantage of 19-6 in offensive rebounds.
That mirrored the Suns game, in which Phoenix had 19 offensive rebounds to the Warriors’ nine.
“Just boxing out,” was Durant’s explanation. “A lot of teams shoot threes, so it’s a lot of long rebounds, so the guards and wings gotta get back to the elbows and rebound. That’s the second game in a row a team shot 20 more shots than us. So whether it’s turnovers or offensive rebounds, we gonna lose in the playoffs like that.”