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Thompson buries Bucks, leads Warriors to impressive win

The moment the Bay Area has been waiting for ever since Klay Thompson returned to the court and Draymond Green quietly limped off, finally happened Monday.

The three Warriors stars, at long last, shared the court together for the first time in over 1,000 games.

And with his cohorts beside him, Stephen Curry exploded for 47 points and led the Warriors (47-22) to a 126-112 victory over the Washington Wizards (29-38).

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Chase Center.

Thompson reflected on the moment after the game:

It was magical, I am looking forward to these future games as well because we are going to rebuild our chemistry and just have fun while doing it. And appreciate every night we have with each other.”

There were many people happy to see Green finally recovered from his back injury: Steve Kerr, Klay Thompson, the entire fanbase, Green himself — but none seemed to be happier Curry.

Green didn’t start the game, in order to limit his minutes and make sure that they were used in high value situations only. His presence, though, was felt immediately.

Kerr said everyone could feel the environment shift when he checked in:

The game changed immediately when he got out there in a lot of different ways. It changed for Steph right away as soon as Draymond got out there, I think he had an assist to him like five seconds in. The chessboard changes with Draymond out there with Steph.”

It was poetic that the first play after he entered the game was a kick-out read to Curry, who promptly nailed the 3.

It’s no coincidence that when Green returned, so too did Curry’s MVP-type performances.

His shots got easier, his playmaking burden lessoned, and he could fully concentrate on what he does best—shoot the lights out and take defenders souls.

Ever since Green went down in early January, Curry has made seven or more 3’s in a game just twice. In Green’s first game back, Curry went 7-of-14 from deep.

Green just knows his partner too well for any defense – even the double-team faceguards that Curry’s been seeing – to work as well.

Even when Green doesn’t have the ball, he’s hunting Curry’s defender like a shark, waiting for the moment they fall asleep for him to go set an offball screen to free him.

Curry said it’s all just built on the 10 years they’ve spent together:

Just chemistry an understanding of how to create good looks, especially if I’m off the ball or he’s in the pick-and-roll. Ten years of that so it can’t be that surprising… He’s been helping me and Klay get open for years.”

That’s what makes the Warriors so hard to guard, the constant motion.

And when Green does have the ball and Curry is blanketed, you can count on him to either attack the rim or make the right pass to free another teammate.

Although Green played the maximum allowable minutes for him, 20, he still had his typical line of six points, seven boards and six assists and was a team-high plus-24.

Kerr said it’s the trios ability to help each other that makes this group so dangerous:

We have a pretty unique group of stars; they really make each other better. They count on one another and they all sort of help one another, and they always have. That’s the beauty of our team.

Oh, and don’t forget the defensive intensity he brings.

Even when Green was on the bench, the team looked more intense and locked in on the defensive side of the ball.

Jonathan Kuminga especially, who has looked like a future defensive weapon, had his on-ball defense intensity ratchet up.

Kuminga started in place of Andrew Wiggins and wasn’t able to share the court with Green at all, but that’s a tantalizing future, seeing what Green can drag out of this rookie.

This isn’t the same Kuminga who Green played with before he got hurt. This is a brand-new weapon, and Green is surely excited to test it out.

Kerr summed up all the impact Green has:

Makes us a better team, makes me a better coach, makes our players better players, makes Bob a better GM, and Joe a better owner.

The defense wasn’t all the way back to the No. 1 ranked defense in the beginning of the year, there were still a handful of minutes where they got demolished by the lowly Wizards.

But it’s unfair to ask Green to transform that unit in his first game back. It’s also probably unfair to ask him to make up for the fact that teams are just going at the head of Nemanja Bjelica whenever he’s on the court.

But with the return of Green, and soon Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II, he might not have to.

The Warriors have been praying for the return of Green, he fixes so many holes that became obvious once he was no longer on the court. And now that he’s back, the rest of the league might be saying a few prayers of their own.

Up Next

The Warriors will take the court again Wednesday when the reinvigorated Boston Celtics (41-28) come to Chase. The Celtics have won 15 of their last 18 games with their last young wing duo of Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown.

Notes

Stephen Curry celebrated his 34th birthday before the game, and his 47 points were the most he’s scored on his birthday. And that jumped his birthday scoring average to 29.4 points per game in seven games. … Jonathan Kuminga has proved to be a weapon not just above the rim but outside the arc now, as the rookie made two more 3’s Monday. In the eight games in March, the rookie is shooting an impressive 38 percent from deep.


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