Warriors Observations

What we learned as Klay, Warriors come out to play in win vs. Rockets

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Klay Thompson’s best game in nearly two months inched the Warriors closer to securing an NBA playoff birth for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons.

Thompson poured in 29 points with seven 3-pointers, and Golden State extended its winning streak to a season-high six games, beating the Houston Rockets 133-110 on Thursday at Toyota Center.

The win completed a season sweep of the three-game series between the two teams.

More importantly, the Warriors (42-34) moved four games upon the Rockets (38-38) for the final NBA play-in tournament spot in the Western Conference. Because Golden State holds the tiebreaker between the two teams, the Warriors’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to two.

Stephen Curry also scored 29 and had six assists while finishing a plus-29. Warriors rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis had a career-high 20 points, including a pair of emphatic dunks, to go with five rebounds and four assists.

Andrew Wiggins added 10 points as the Warriors got plenty of scoring on a night when they once again were without Jonathan Kuminga.

Kuminga missed his fifth consecutive game with bilateral knee tendinitis. Warriors coach Steve Kerr was hopeful that the young forward could play, but after working out earlier in the day and consulting with the team’s medical staff, the decision was made to rest Kuminga for at least one more game. Kerr said before the game that Kuminga could possibly play Friday in Dallas.

The Rockets have lost three straight following an 11-game winning streak that significantly closed the gap between them and the Warriors in the playoff standings.

A win on Thursday by Houston would have made things really interesting down the stretch, but the Warriors finally have a little breathing room.

It wasn’t all pretty. But at this point of the season, fans and players could care less about style points. The only thing that matters is getting a W, no matter how it looks.

Thompson got the Warriors going early, scoring 21 points in the first half to help Golden State build a 15-point lead that was never really threatened after that.

Here are the takeaways from Thursday’s game:

Rolling Road Warriors

The all-important victory maintained the Warriors’ trend of playing better on the road this season than they have at Chase Center.

This was Golden State’s fifth straight on the road – and seventh consecutive in Houston – which should add even more confidence with the playoffs around the corner.

Rockets fans at Toyota Center had every reason to be loud and wild since the Rockets are the team doing the chasing. But Thompson’s incredible first half kept the Houston crowd mostly quiet, which is something opponents have become accustomed to lately when hosting the Warriors.

If the Warriors remain the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, they’ll have to win two road games to get out of the play-in bracket. That’s a heavy task for any team, but Golden State clearly doesn’t get rattled when away from Chase. The Warriors have won 15 of their last 18 games on the road.

Klay Molds Into Form

Thompson has done a solid job since being re-inserted into the starting lineup, but his night against the Rockets was on a different level.

Thompson came out on fire, connecting from all over on the court. The Rockets threw different looks at Thompson in an effort to slow or contain him, but nothing much worked.

Thompson’s best shooting night of the 2023-24 NBA season came at exactly the perfect time. The five-time All-Star connected for five threes in the first half alone, more than he had in his previous two games combined.

Thompson finished the night shooting a blazing 11 of 15 overall and 7 of 11 behind the arc.

Over his last 15 games, Thompson has been held below 10 points just once. In his last five games as a starter, he’s averaging a smooth and steady 19.8 points.

If he keeps this up, there’s no telling how deep into the postseason the Warriors can get.

Overcoming The Bad

As nice as the win was, it could have – and probably should have – been a lot easier.

The problem, as it has been for many seasons now, is that the Warriors did a poor job taking care of the ball. They committed 21 turnovers that led to 27 points for the Rockets.

It’s the fifth time this season that Golden State has committed 20 or more turnovers in a game. Incredibly, the Warriors are 3-2 in such games.

Granted, it comes with the quick pace that the Warriors play. But it’s an area that has to be cleaned up soon. It’s a whole lot easier to overcome the mistakes in the regular season, but in the playoffs where everything is magnified, it could mean the difference between a win and loss.

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