SAN FRANCISCO – There’s no doubt that the Warriors are happy to know they’ve seen the Cleveland Cavaliers’ last game of the season.
But there’s no doubt they must be absolutely giddy at the sight of Andrew Wiggins materializing before their eager eyes.
Wiggins’ slow rise out of preseason irrelevance continued Saturday night at Chase Center, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Warriors to avoid a 118-110 loss to the taller, faster Cavaliers, who stifled Golden State’s offense while winning both games. of the season series for the first time since Stephen Curry’s rookie season.
But if losing another game to Cleveland in November means getting more from Wiggins in the coming months, the Warriors will accept that trade.
This team needs Wiggins. In defense, yes, but also in attack. Not just against a bad defensive team like the Cavaliers but against every team the Warriors face. Curry, who scored a game-high 30 points, will welcome his scoring sidekick — at least until Klay Thompson finds a higher level of scoring efficiency.
The signs of Wiggins’ renewal were encouraging. He was mostly locked up – especially Because there were several occasions when his concentration seemed to slip. He was productive enough to post one of his most complete statistical lines of the season: 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.
However, the Warriors may want to limit and preserve Wiggins’ first six minutes, during which he scored or assisted on the first 10 points and 12 of the first 15 points.
Assist on the first bucket, three-pointer from Draymond Green. Help on the green putt. Help with curry on the trilogy. Perfect cross pass from Green. With 5:45 remaining, Thompson followed up on a three-pointer that Thompson missed to give the Warriors their first lead.
“I wasn’t making up plays for him — it’s not about that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s just about his energy and his aggressiveness. He’s been better the last two games. He’s getting there.”
Wiggins’ 6-of-12 shooting from the field put him at 50 percent or higher for the fourth time in 10 games. He was 1-of-4 from deep, making him 2-of-13 since the calendar flipped 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 has at any point this season. He was quick to deflect passes and on one occasion stopped a fast-paced Cleveland shot by chasing down Donovan Mitchell and dribbling him out of bounds.
Wiggins was much less impactful in his final stint, with six minutes in the fourth quarter as the Warriors’ comeback attempt fell short. Kerr emptied the bench with 2:12 left and the Warriors trailed by 14.
Maybe this evening is something Wiggins can carry into Sunday, when his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, invade Chase Center. It usually invokes more emotions when you visit them.
That reinforcement should be easy in this case, as Wiggins should expect to spend a lot of time defending Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards.
Kerr hopes Wiggins will be more productive.
“The shots weren’t going, but his defense on the ball was really good,” Kerr said before the tip. “In general, that’s the message when someone’s struggling. Focus on what you can control, which is ball defense, general energy and rebounding. Because that’s where you lose yourself in those things and you fall at some points, especially someone as athletic as Andrew. The next shot is easier when you are able to do this.
“He’s going in the right direction. I’m not worried about him.”
Curry is a great start. He’s been Golden State’s leading scorer in all 10 games this season, a prime example of the “Help Wanted” sign in the thought cloud above him.
Enter Wiggins, or so the Warriors hope. As soon as Sunday, if they have their way.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”