The Warriors had nothing tangible to gain but perhaps benefited from testing their mettle against Rudy Gobert at the rim (he was as brilliant as his 17 points, 18 boards and two blocked shots suggests). It was also the game that saw Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry get their first minutes together since Feb. 28, when Durant suffered an MCL sprain against the Washington Wizards.
“I mean it’s been a while since we played together, but the flow was there,” Curry said after the game. “It was kind of choppy at first. That’s the way Utah kind of slowed the tempo down.”
He added, “We had some bright spots, some good runs, got some good spurts.”
On Curry and Durant playing a lot simultaneously, Kerr said, “That was part of the idea tonight was to get them as many minutes as possible, so we left KD out there longer than we did last game in terms of his runs. So both first and third quarter I think they got about 10 minutes action together, each.”
Prior to that injury, the Durant/Curry dynamic had been workable, but not exactly living up to preseason expectations. Many thought they’d operate within a devastating pick-and-roll, and that has yet to happen. Still, the Warriors are successful with both on the floor, and Monday night gave us glimpses of how the two work together.
The beginning seemed to presage some deference, as Curry passed up an open 3-pointer to assist Durant on a midrange shot. Durant then returned the favor as he passed out of the post for a Curry 3 at the top of circle.
As the Warriors played lax defense, the fun stuff came later when Curry tossed an outlet to Durant that led to a Green dunk. The Warriors might have dominated this game had they finished more plays like that. Instead, they botched a few easy transition opportunities.
In the beginning, Curry didn’t need easy baskets to do his damage, as he was content to shell the Jazz from deep (28 points, six 3-pointers in 30 minutes of play). As the season winds to a close, Curry looks, subjectively, like last year’s MVP candidate — finally. That’s quite a positive sign for a Warriors team, obviously.
As for the Durant watch, he certainly looks to be in good condition on a couple of highlight plays. On one, Durant crossed over Dante Exum in transition and threw down a furious slam. On another, Durant zipped past Joe Ingles and dunked right in the face of Joel Bolomboy.
Of the dunks, Durant said, “It felt really good man, I can’t lie. I’m a little hesitant early on these first few games, just exploding off and just making moves I normally make. Seems like most second halves these last two games I’ve just been saying, ‘Forget it, just go out there and try some stuff.'”
Durant looks athletic as ever, and the midrange jumper is accurate, but the 3-point shot isn’t quite there yet. Durant scored 16 points on 12 shots, but went 0-of-5 from deep. Despite more space than he had in Oklahoma City’s offense, Durant is shooting 28.4 percent from 3-point territory over his past 19 games dating back to Jan. 20.
That’s a luxury issue for a team that didn’t have to try on Monday because their 1-seed status is assured. The Warriors have a few kinks to work out, but theirs are smaller and less gnarled than what everyone else is going through.