Splash Brothers' 2nd-Half Domination in Portland Proves Warriors' Lethal Prowess

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

USA Today

While others may fold on the road when down big in the second half, the Golden State Warriors' "Splash Brothers" say "18-point deficits be damned."

If not with their words, certainly they do with their actions.

During Sunday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Warriors found themselves faced with a pretty substantial second-half climb. With eight minutes left in the third quarter, Nicolas Batum hit a three-pointer to put his team up 70-52.

That's when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson—the aforementioned Splash Brothers—decided enough was enough.

Golden State outscored Portland, 61-42, over the last 20 minutes of game time, winning by a final score of 113-112. Curry and Thompson combined for a whopping 51 points in the second half alone:

Predictably, they did a lot of their damage from beyond the arc:

This wasn't just any old game either. The Blazers are ahead of the Warriors in the standings (they're at Nos. 5 and 6) and they're rapidly closing the gap:

If the fourth-seeded Houston Rockets continue to struggle (they've lost three straight), there's a chance the Warriors and Blazers could see each other in a first-round playoff series:

Fans of uptempo, exciting basketball would thank their lucky stars.

The second half—especially the final few minutes—was a showcase of pure entertainment.

From Curry sending Wesley Matthews flying into David Lee with a crossover:

To Damian Lillard throwing down a hammer dunk off a backdoor cut:

To the moxy that was on display when Thompson hit two huge threes with under 30 seconds left:

This game had the kind of edge-of-your-seat quality typically reserved for the playoffs or darkened movie theaters. 

The Warriors bring a brand of excitement and a level of firepower that's tough to equal. And no Western Conference team wants to be on the wrong end of it.

Thing is, it's tough not to be when Golden State is healthy. The starting lineup of Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Lee and Andrew Bogut is the best five-man lineup in the NBA in terms of average plus/minus rating at plus-5.6.

Part of the reason they're so good together is balance—each one seems to provide something unique that helps the others.

It all starts with Curry, of course, who broke the record for three-pointers over a two-season stretch on Sunday. His 8.6 assists a game show that he can create for others, but he's obviously capable of taking over himself if the passing lanes are shut down.

Thompson is an excellent floor spacer who keeps defenders honest on the perimeter. Collapsing on a drive by Curry or a post-up by Lee is risky when they're flanked by Thompson, the league leader in catch-and-shoot points per game at 9.2.

And all the attention those two command around the three-point line makes it a lot easier for Lee to operate inside. He's a capable low-post scorer who rarely has to worry about double-teams because opponents would rather give up two than three.

The other two members of that lethal five-man combination are Bogut and Iguodala, the defensive anchors. Bogut mans the inside, while Iguodala patrols the perimeter. The rest of the Warriors have followed their leadership all the way to the league's third-best defensive rating at 99.3.

That's right. Thanks in large part to the defensive leadership of Bogut and Iguodala and Mark Jackson's coaching, this isn't just a three-point shooting team. Together, these five make life on the court much easier for each other on both ends of the floor.

Offensive explosions like the ones the Splash Brothers were responsible for Sunday get most of the attention—as they should—but they're largely a function of something more.

This team is coming together at just the right time—they're 11-4 since the All-Star break. Everybody is accepting their roles and executing them scarily well.

If they continue on this upward trajectory on into the playoffs, the Warriors could be one of the scariest first-round matchups in the West.

And as they showed Sunday, there aren't many environments or deficits that can slow them down.



Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com and are current as of March 16, 2014.

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.