Warriors nail Steve Kerr’s draft in much needed victory over the Raptors

Warriors nails Kerr’s draft in an important win over the Raptors that originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Kerr during his pre-game press conference Friday night at the Chase Center outlined the plan for the Warriors to beat the Toronto Raptors.

The hero ball couldn’t have been an option. The game could not turn into a glorified 1-on-1 competition. Ball movement was a must.

Toronto is long and loves to change everything on defense. The Warriors had to take care of the ball, an aspect they struggled with all season. This time, the tone was set early on.

Golden State seemed to hear Kerr loud and clear. There was a clear game plan and the execution showed in the Warriors’ 129-117 win over the Raptors.

“We know they’re going to change everything and they’ve got all those long, athletic guys,” Kerr said before the tip. “So you should move them. You can’t just leave them sitting in boxes and elbows and keep accepting a change and trying to beat the guys 1-on-1. The ball has to move. You have to move their defense around and pass them multiple times instead of one only once.

“If you do, they’re more likely to make a mistake and you’re more likely to get open shots.”

The Raptors entered Friday leading the NBA in average 9.4 steals per game. They were also allowing the fifth most assists per game.

The Warriors capitalized on this, with their offense rarely, if ever, feeling stale and stagnant. The ball was hot, it flew everywhere with precision. He too started early.

The Warriors tallied 13 assists in the first quarter. That number dropped to 21 at halftime and 32 over three quarters. Usually, the Warriors circle number is 30. They passed that before the fourth quarter even started.

Ultimately, the Warriors set a new season high of 40 assists. Their previous high was 38 in a seven-point win against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 20, 2022.

“Yeah, for the most part,” Kerr said after the win when asked if the Warriors nailed their pregame plan. “The ball was moving and you have to do that against this team. They are too good with their substitutions and just stand in front of the dribblers.

“You have to attack them with passing and with cutting and I thought we did a good job.”

Klay Thompson, who accounted for 29 points, six 3-pointers and an assist in the party, had a somewhat shorter explanation for the Warriors’ success.

Happy teammates, happy life.

“Forty assists equals great ball movement, equals everyone’s happy, so I’m happy,” he said.

Steph Curry worked his way up to a full 35 points in efficiency. He went 13-of-21 from the field, 4-of-8 from 3-point range and hit all five of his free throws. Curry also provided 11 assists.

As did Donte DiVincenzo. His 11 assists set a new career high. Prior to Friday night, he had never dished out more than nine assists in a game and his most with the Warriors was eight. Whether it’s what the numbers say or the eye test, this is nothing new with DiVincenzo.

He’s put together a long streak of games where it’s becoming increasingly clear how valuable he is to the Warriors. DiVincenzo was a threat on defense and recorded two steals. He scored 12 points and drained two of his five 3-point attempts.

For a team that can play so dispersed, its stability is exactly what the Warriors need.

“Donte was great again,” Kerr said. He’s had a big stretch now the last six, eight weeks. He just competes. He’s just a guard. He’s not a point guard, not a two-point guard. He’s just a basketball player.

“He had 11 assists, moved the ball beautifully, competes defensively. Donte was just amazing to us.”

In addition to setting a career high for assists in a game, DiVincenzo also set a season plus/minus record. In 33 minutes off the bench, he was a plus-24.

Some live and die for more/less. Others brush past it from the side. DiVincenzo has taken the high road.

“I had no idea I was plus-24,” DiVincenzo said. “I don’t know. I think it’s skewed sometimes when I’m playing two of the best shooters of all time.”

The assists are great, even if they don’t tell the whole story. The Warriors lead the league in assists, but with the win they are now 25-24 on the season. They also rank second to the Rockets with 11 wins in turnovers per game.

At first, it looked like the Warriors were ready for another sloppy night. Within the first 32 seconds of the game, they turned the ball over twice. There were no more turnovers for the remainder of the quarter. By halftime, the Warriors had only turned the ball over four times. The previous game, they had 14 turnovers in the first two quarters, equal to 29 points for the Grizzlies.

Overall, the Warriors finished with 14 turnovers, including Curry eventually letting the clock run out. However, they’re two short of average, and the Raptors have scored just 15 points on turnovers. To go from winning two games in a row to growing to a streak, the Warriors will need to continue sharing the wealth while appreciating the ball even more as they head into a four-game road trip.

RELATED: Curry, Thompson praises Kuminga’s momentum-changing 3-pointers

Curry will take the Warriors win over the Raptors, just like he enjoyed beating the Grizzlies. Now is the time for more.

“We’ve been teetering on either side of .500 for a long time,” Curry said. “At this point I’m pretty fed up with it. I have to figure out how to keep moving in the right direction and rack up victories no matter how we get them.”

The project was made as clear as possible beforehand and eventually turned out to be true. Now wait for another test.

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