Chris Paul

Warriors' consistent bench critical in keeping game close vs. Mavs

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Warriors have been fiddling with their starting rotations for most of the 2023-24 NBA season, whether because of injuries or a lack of production. Their coach Steve Kerr still isn’t certain that he has found the right combination.

One thing that has been consistent, however, is the production that Golden State has gotten from its bench regardless of who is with the second unit.

In the Warriors' 108-106 loss to the Mavericks on Friday in Dallas, the Dubs' reserves came in and sparked an immediate turnaround when it appeared that the Mavs were on the verge of turning the game into a blowout. Then, the second team continued to provide big minutes and timely plays throughout the game on a night when the starters as a whole didn’t appear very cohesive and in rhythm.

For Dub Nation, it certainly wasn’t a revelation. All season long, the Warriors have received sound and solid production from their bench.

“We’ve been pretty much the same all year,” Gary Payton II told reporters in Dallas. “Just coming in, stay afloat, pick it up or continue where the first group left off and just continue to be solid.”

The reserves did much more than that in Dallas.

For the second time in four days, the Mavericks did a solid job of preventing Golden State stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson from really going off. After both were held under 15 points against Dallas on Tuesday, the duo teamed up for 44 points on Friday but shot a combined 16 of 40 and went 7 of 22 behind the arc.

Yet the Warriors stayed close and had a chance to win in the end, primarily because the bench helped keep the game close.

Much like they have for most of the year, Chris Paul and rookie Brandin Podziemski led the bench brigade. Paul had a terrific game with nine points, eight assists, five rebounds, four steals and a block to finish a team-best plus-22. Podziemski tallied 14 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Payton added 14 points on a crisp 6-for-7 shooting night, and Kevon Looney helped out with seven rebounds in 10 minutes.

“We got off to such a terrible start, and then that group came off the bench and got us right back in it, and even got us the lead at the end of the first quarter,” Kerr said. “Chris, Brandin, Gary, Loon, they were all really good. Got the game organized and sorted out, then it was just back and forth from there.”

Even with the star-studded starting lineups that he trots out each game, Kerr has leaned heavily on the bench, using his reserves more than any other team in the NBA besides the Utah Jazz.

Through 77 games, Golden State has the league’s third-most productive bench, averaging 42.8 points a game. Only the Indiana Pacers (46.4) and Jazz (42.9) get more out of their bench.

The Warriors also lead the league in bench rebounding average (20.7) and are second in assists (11.4) and shooting percentage (48.6).

As a team overall, Golden State is eighth in the league in scoring (117.8), 15th in shooting percentage (47.5) and leads the NBA in rebounding (46.8).

Were it not for the play of the second unit, the Warriors likely would have gotten mopped up by the Mavs.

Instead, they were in it until the end. The bench was a big reason why and deserves a lot of credit for it.

“We play desperate,” Podziemski said when asked about the Warriors’ second unit. “Sometimes we’re there to clean up the first group, sometimes we’re there to extend the lead. Just kind of gauging whatever that game calls for when we get in there.

“For the most part – the second part of the first quarter [and] second part of the third quarter – we did our best to keep it within range. Obviously there’s things you can clean up, you can do better at. But for the most part that second unit did a really good job.”

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us