SAN FRANCISCO – There’s no doubt the Warriors are excited to know they saw the Cleveland Cavaliers’ final game this season.
But there’s no doubt they should be downright stunned at the sight of Andrew Wiggins materializing before their eager eyes.
Wiggins’ slow climb out of early-season irrelevance continued Saturday night at Chase Center, but it wasn’t enough for the Warriors to avoid a 118-110 loss to the longer, faster Cavaliers , who stifled Golden State’s offense by winning both games. of the season series for the first time since Stephen Curry’s rookie season.
But if losing one more game to Cleveland in November means getting more out of Wiggins in the coming months, the Warriors will take this trade.
This team needs Wiggins. In defense, yes, but also in attack. Not just against a nasty defensive team like the Cavs, but against every team the Warriors face. Curry, who scored a game-high 30 points, would welcome a scoring sidekick — at least until Klay Thompson finds a higher level of scoring efficiency.
The signs of a renewed Wiggins were encouraging. He was mostly locked away – Above all because there were several occasions where his concentration seemed to slip. He was productive enough to post one of his most complete stats of the season: 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Warriors, however, may want to bottle and preserve Wiggins’ first six minutes, in which he scored or assisted on their first 10 points and 12 of their first 15.
An assist on the first bucket, a 3-pointer from Draymond Green. Assist on a green layup. Assist on a Curry on a triple. A lay-in on a lobbed pass from Green. And, with 5:45 left, an emphatic follow-up hit on a missed 3-ball by Thompson gave the Warriors their first lead.
“I wasn’t setting up plays for him, it’s not about that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s just his energy, his aggression. He has been better in the last two games. He gets there.
Wiggins’ 6-of-12 shooting from the field put him at 50 percent or better for the fourth time in 10 games. He was 1 of 4 from deep, putting him at 2 of 13 since the calendar turned to November and 4 of 24 this season. He has some serious catching up to do.
The eye test indicated that Wiggins is digging deeper than he ever has this season. He worked to deflect passes and, on one occasion, stopped a quick Cleveland counterattack by chasing down Donovan Mitchell and sliding his dribble out of bounds.
Wiggins had much less impact in his final stint, with six minutes left in the fourth quarter as the Warriors’ comeback attempt failed. Kerr emptied the bench with 2:12 left and the Warriors trailed by 14.
Maybe tonight is something Wiggins can carry over to Sunday, when his old team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, invade the Chase Center. It generally arouses additional emotion during their visit.
That push should be easy in this case, as Wiggins should expect to spend a lot of time defending Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards.
Kerr hopes to see a more productive Wiggins.
“The shots didn’t work, but his defense on the ball was really good,” Kerr said before the tipoff. “In general, this is the message we send when someone is in difficulty. Focus on what you can control, namely on-ball defense, overall energy, and rebounding. Because that’s where you get lost in these things and you stumble at certain points, especially someone as athletic as Andrew. The next plan seems easier when you are able to do it.
“He’s going in the right direction. I’m not worried about him.
Curry is off to a great start. He’s been Golden State’s leading scorer in all 10 games this season, which is a stark illustration of the “Help Wanted” sign in the thought cloud above him.
Enter Wiggins, at least that’s what the Warriors hope. From Sunday, if they achieve their goals.
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