Steph Curry had an off scoring night Monday against the Miami Heat. Draymond Green was returning from a two-game absence due to health and safety protocols. The lack of playmaking in years past would spell disaster for the Warriors.
Instead, the Warriors logged their second straight game with 39 assists, both coming against teams in the NBA’s top eight in overall record and defensive rating. That makes the Warriors the first team to have 39 or more assists in consecutive games since the Indiana Pacers did it in April 1994.
Monday night, with passing maestro Green back in action and Curry falling into a strange 3-of-17 shooting night, the Warriors were all about ball movement. Green’s 13 assists led the team and Curry made his impact with 10. Jordan Poole had five off the bench on his 32-point night and Andrew Wiggins, who is averaging less than two assists per game, got four of his own.
“It helps a lot,” Green said of the shared assist load, “when you have guys that can make plays. I had two turnovers, one was an offensive foul. When you have guys that can make plays, you trust them to move the ball and that they can make the next play. You don’t have to try to squeeze it into the side gaps, you can trust the other guys. Tonight was indicative of that.”
The team picked up the passing slack without Green in their New Year’s Day win against the Jazz. Andre Iguodala, who did not play Monday, collected eight assists off the bench with Otto Porter Jr. matching him as a starter. Curry led the team with nine assists and 28 points and Kevon Looney had six assists.
Golden State’s 28.4 assists per game rank second only to the Spurs’ 28.5 per game.
The high assist totals tell a story of a Golden State team clicking. The Warriors lead the NBA in several passing-related statistics, including points generated by assists (74.1 per game) and passes competed (318 per game).
The stats are the result of a ball movement-centric offense coming to fruition inspired by their “half-second rule”. Ideally, players will make a decision to pass or shoot within a half-second of getting the ball. The half-second rule is prevalent in the league, according to Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. It’s inspired by his former assistant coach Tex Winter’s one-second rule.
“The game has gotten so much faster that it’s point-five,” Kerr said. “You have to make decisions quickly. The way we play, if we can make decisions quickly and the ball is moving, we’re going to get more shots.”
Of course, a half-second is a pie-in-the-sky number. But the mentality results in their league-leading 5 secondary assists per game paired with an average of just 2.75 seconds per touch and 1.97 dribbles per touch (both quickest in the NBA). The Warriors are executing the fast-paced offense they aim to create.
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