1) Jordan Bell is going to be awesome, but he’s not Draymond Green just yet
Yeah, that's an obvious statement. Understandably, Bell is only a rookie and he might also be further along than Draymond was in his first year, but he needs to improve his lateral quickness. James Harden and Eric Gordon are seasoned NBA vets, who can make any big man look silly, so take this with a grain of salt. Each time they put Bell in the blender, he seemed a step slow to keep up with them. He was more solid as the game went on with Harden just hitting over everyone, so fans shouldn’t be too concerned.
Bell did show great hands and an instinct around the basket, which is exciting. We saw this during the shortened preseason, so to see him do it on the big stage is reassuring. He has touch around the basket even if he doesn’t sky 2 feet above it.
James-Michael McAdoo he is not.
2) Kerr was treating this like a preseason game because he kinda had to
Ah, the luxuries of being the champs and the consensus favorites. I have no insider knowledge whatsoever, but with the way Kerr used his bench, he was almost like, “ok, let’s see what we’ve got here.” When a team is trying to climb the standings ladder and prove something, a heartbreaking blown-lead-buzzer-beater-doesn’t-count loss in the first game of the season would be a bit soul crushing, but as a fan, the loss felt kind of annoying. I was bummed they lost, but because there’s confidence in the team’s proven ability to be great, you just throw your hands up and say, “that sucks, but good game Houston.”
Granted, his hand was forced with Andre out, Curry and Durant stuck in foul trouble and Draymond getting dinged, but the game had a “feeling things out” vibe to it. Looney getting major PT was a function of who was available and also Kerr probably trying to give the kid a chance and boost his confidence. The normal rotations were blown up, so a lot of the game seemed like a case of “let’s see what _________ can do.”
By the way, closing with Steph, Klay, McCaw, Livingston and KD, is the skinniest “death lineup” you’ll ever see.
3) Draymond is STILL the engine
When Draymond went out with that tweak in his knee, the Warriors couldn’t fight back and put away the Rockets. And in the closing minutes, his DPOY-ness was a gaping void in their defense. Compound that with Andre being out, then they were missing both the heartbeat and their head (that’s an exaggeration of course, but Andre does have a huge wise and calming influence). Let’s hope that knee is just fine and that Andre’s back does not cause season-long issues.
4) Nick Young is the Warriors’ J.R. Smith
I’ve always seen these two loveable knuckleheads as similar. They can heat up and drain 5 threes in a row or do some absentminded Shaqtin-type stuff like prematurely no-look a three-pointer that rims out or hug Jason Terry while the ball’s in play.
They’re both hired guns who can thrive in the right setting (J.R. proven, Swaggy P remains to be seen), so I can’t wait to see them face off. It’ll be like staring into a mirror. Like if the Flash ran into Quicksilver. The universe might explode.
5.) Houston has confidence
The biggest negative from this game is that this gave Houston confidence they can not only beat the Warriors but also beat them in Oakland. CP3 was gimpy but they still came from behind when given the opportunity and won. The fact that the Warriors were missing players and had foul trouble doesn’t matter in the psychological battle. Next time the Warriors face them, they should come for blood.
P.J. Tucker is a solid pickup, the perfect guy to play in their offense who also D’s up. He makes them tougher and was the thickest guy on the court in crunchtime knocking the Warriors “big men” of Livingston and KD around a bit.
Can’t wait for the next game because if everyone’s healthy on both sides and in midseason form that’s when we’ll truly see how things stack up.
6.) Get better soon Gordon Hayward
This is not a Warriors observation, but seeing Hayward break and dislocate his ankle live was surreal. As a basketball fan, I was really looking forward to seeing how the Celtics would develop. And as a Warriors fan, I was really looking forward to seeing how they'd challenge the Cavs. You always want to see potential realized, so here's hoping for a full and speedy recovery. Injuries suck.