It’s been a long time coming, but Thursday night you could finally see it: the Splash Brothers are back in full force.
The duo combined for 52 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves and shot the Warriors (36-13) to a 124-115 win.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Chase Center.
With Klay Thompson still finding his rhythm coming back from injury, and Stephen Curry mired in the worst slump of his career, the Warriors backcourt have technically been back on the court for some time, but they haven’t truly shined in the same game.
That all changed Thursday when they each had a deadly efficient offensive performance.
Steve Kerr said the two are still figuring out how to play together after so much time without each other:
Two and a half years is a long time. And the teammates around them have changed, and we’re running some different stuff now compared to then, so I do think it’ll take some time.”
Thompson lasered in five 3’s, while Curry hit six of his own, and it looks like he may finally be breaking out of his extended struggle.
They’re special. The NBA has never seen any one that can shoot like them. And playing alongside of them is just fun. You never know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what type of crazy shot they’re going to make.”
The facilitator role Curry played Tuesday was gone, and back was the aggressive shot maker.
He pulled from deep multiple times, and even had two patented Curry jumpers where it looks like he’s off-balance and fumbling the ball, only to regain control and fire in a deep 3 a split-second later.
It’s a great sign for Curry, but we’ll need to reserve judgement on if he’s truly back to being the dominant MVP performer like he was in the beginning of the season.
Curry said it’s been a point of emphasis to keep his own spirits up during this stretch:
For me it’s the balance of maintaining of who I am on the court and how I enjoy the game even when things aren’t going your way. That joy has to maintain because I think everybody feeds off it. If I’m in my feelings and thinking about my shot and all that type of stuff it takes away from all the stuff that we do and that I can do to impact winning even if I’m not shooting the ball.”
We’ve seen glimpses before, he had 39 points in the loss to the Indiana Pacers only to follow that up with a 6-of-21 shooting night against the Rockets. His backcourt partner however is starting to string together solid games.
Thompson shot over 50 percent from deep for the second consecutive game and again didn’t overly hunt his own shot.
He let the game come to him and continues to flash passing vision that we haven’t seen before. Thompson had 12 total assists over his first six games, he’s now dished out 10 combined in his last two games.
It wasn’t just the Warriors stalwarts to show up against Minnesota (24-24) though. They nearly had four players break the 20-point mark, as Jordan Poole and newly minted All-Star Andrew Wiggins poured in 19 apiece.
Curry said the offense works best when it’s straightforward:
Keeping things simple in terms of how we’re creating our shots and our open looks. Drive and kick, drawing a crowd, finding the open guy, making quick decisions and whoever’s open you pass it… It’s a great way to play when it works, and when it does work you have nights like tonight.”
Poole is now averaging 19 points over his last four games and looks to have found his groove as the Warriors sixth man. His confidence is overflowing on the court, and it’s obvious.
Perhaps not more obvious then when he tried to hammer down a free throw line dunk on the Timberwolves.
It didn’t go in, but to have the audacity to even attempt that shows the type of swagger he’s playing with currently.
Although it’s been a tough balancing act that has Kerr wishing for some less wild tendencies:
I feel like we are right now, wildly entertaining, and I just want to be entertaining. Right now, we’re too wild. We made, I don’t know, seven to 10 insane plays that are going to get us beat in a big game against a good team.”
Wiggins 19 wasn’t as loud as Poole’s but he also paired that with some lockdown defense on Anthony Edwards and was the steadying presence he has been all season.
And they did all this without their lynchpin Draymond Green. But it gives just a glimpse of what this Warriors team can be Kerr said:
These last two games are a good indicator of what we can look like with Klay back… With the spacing we’ve had and the ball movement we’ve gotten great shots.”
Especially when the Splash Brothers are rolling together.
The Brooklyn Nets (29-19) come to town Saturday to finally polish off the seven-game homestand. They’ll be back at Chase in no time afterward though, as just a quick two-game Texas road trip through Houston and San Antonio awaits the Warriors.
Andrew Wiggins was named an All-Star starter before the game. He finished third in fan voting ahead of the likes of Karl Anthony-Towns, Rudy Gobert and teammate Draymond Green. It’s not only his first All-Star start but his first time making the team. … Green may have missed out on a starter selection but he also made the news Thursday when he signed a multi-year contract to appear as a TNT analyst while being an active player. He’ll appear on “Inside the NBA” while also having other opportunities with Turner Sports and Bleacher Report.
Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.