The Golden State Warriors figure to contend for the playoffs if they take care of teams at the bottom of the standings, and they did just that this week during a two-game stretch against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Golden State followed Monday's win with a 123-111 victory over the same team in Wednesday's Western Conference showdown at Chase Center. It was a balanced effort for the victors, who improved to 10-8 on the season with Stephen Curry as one of five Warriors in double figures.
An impressive effort from Anthony Edwards was not enough for the Timberwolves, who fell to 4-13 overall and 1-6 in their last seven.
Notable Player Stats
- Stephen Curry, G, GS: 16 PTS, 8 AST, 6 REB
- Kelly Oubre Jr., F, GS: 20 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL
- Andrew Wiggins, F, GS: 19 PTS, 3 REB
- James Wiseman, C, GS: 25 PTS, 6 REB, 2 BLK
- Anthony Edwards, F, MIN: 25 PTS, 4 REB, 3 STL
- Malik Beasley, G, MIN: 25 PTS, 5 REB
Golden State's Supporting Cast Shines in Easy Win
Kevin Durant is no longer on the roster and Klay Thompson is injured, so every Warriors game is either an offensive show from Curry or bust, right?
Well, not so fast.
The two-time MVP didn't score his first points until there were less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half, but Golden State still cruised thanks in large part to the supporting cast.
Kelly Oubre Jr. seemed to be motivated by Minnesota's physical approach with him that included a flagrant-2 ejection from Ed Davis and a shove from Jake Layman. He aggressively attacked the basket, threw down a monster jam, created multiple turnovers with engaged defense and found his stroke from deep while leading the offense for extended stretches.
James Wiseman also demonstrated his head-turning versatility with three triples in the first half before he blocked a shot, ran the floor and flushed home a dunk on an assist from Draymond Green all in one sequence during the third quarter.
Andrew Wiggins also got in on the fun with a dunk, floater and mid-range jumper as Golden State completely took over in the third quarter.
Curry eventually worked some of his magic in that third quarter with four three-pointers while dancing around Minnesota defenders in a reminder that he can still flip the switch at a moment's notice.
While the Warriors will face stiffer competition than Minnesota as the season progresses, Curry is going to need his supporting cast to play well so he doesn't have to flip that switch every game as they battle for the playoffs. Even a handful of games like Wednesday's will keep him fresher before the stretch run in the daunting Western Conference.
Anthony Edwards Provides Bright Spot in Loss
There are frankly more important things than wins and losses for the Timberwolves this season considering they are in rebuilding mode with an eye on the future.
Perhaps the most important part of that future is the play and improvement of Edwards, who the team selected with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft. While there has been plenty of inconsistency, the Georgia product came into Wednesday's contest with some individual momentum after scoring a combined 33 points in his previous two games.
He wasted no time building on that and poured in 15 points in the first half behind hot shooting from the outside. That he was doing the scoring with more than just high-flying dunks was notable, especially with Wiseman, who was the No. 2 pick, mixing in some triples on the other end.
Edwards' performance kept Minnesota within striking distance heading into the second half with Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell both sidelined.
Ultimately, the visitors couldn't contain the Warriors in the third quarter, but the rookie continued to play well and flashed his potential.
If Wednesday was any indication, there are brighter days ahead for the Timberwolves. Edwards should continue to make strides, Towns and Russell will eventually return, and both Malik Beasley and Naz Reid have impressed for stretches. It was easy to think about that future with Edwards continuing to build on his recent scoring streak.
The Warriors are at the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, while the Timberwolves host the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.