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Beachcombings: Sea Dubs 19-6 at the Halfway Mark

By Kevin Danna

What's going on with the Santa Cruz Warriors? Sea Dubs broadcaster Kevin Danna provides an insider's look at the team.

1. Getting it Done – and Then Some – on the Road

Anytime you go on an extended road trip, a .500 record on said trip is generally accepted as doing what you need to do. The Sea Dubs did more than just that in its recently-wrapped-up jaunt to Texas, going 3-1 over the four-game swing.

They weren’t pretty wins, but Santa Cruz found a way to grind out an 87-84 win over the Austin Spurs on Thursday before snapping the Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ 6-game streak with a 92-91 edging of the Snakes, surviving a missed corner three at the buzzer from 2014 first round NBA Draft pick Bruno Caboclo.

As the final scores would indicate, defense was the common theme in those two victories. The Sea Dubs held Austin to 20 points below its season average and RGV to 16 points under its normal rate in the wins.

And, as the final scores would also indicate, Santa Cruz needed to play stingy D, because the offense wasn’t exactly clicking – especially in the second half. On Thursday, the Warriors scored a season-low 34 points in the second half before putting up a season-low 13 fourth-quarter points in the Saturday win over RGV.

2. Franchise-Best at the Halfway Mark

The Santa Cruz Warriors have hit the halfway mark of the 50-game G League regular season with a 19-6 record, which is the best first-25-game record in the seven years since Golden State moved its G League squad from Bismarck to Surf City. Santa Cruz has been above .500 at the halfway mark six times in seven seasons, with the previous best 25-game start coming in the inaugural season, as Santa Cruz went 16-9 to start the 2012-13 campaign (they went 16-9 in the back half of the schedule as well before losing in the G League Finals).

The best 50-game record in franchise history is 35-15 during the 2014-15 season, when the Sea Dubs won their only G League championship. If the Warriors want to set a new high, they’ll have to go 17-8 over the final 25 games.

Santa Cruz also has the best record in the G League by percentage points over the 20-7 Oklahoma City Blue as of games played through January 14. It’s a long way away, but with playoff series being do-or-die one-game rounds until the best-of-three finals, Santa Cruz has a chance to get to the G League Finals without leaving Kaiser Permanente Arena.

3. Deyonta Davis Doin’ Damage

The third-year pro out of Michigan State has really turned it up a notch as of late. Davis led the team in scoring in both wins over Austin and Rio Grande Valley, posting 17 points against the Spurs and 20 against Rio Grande Valley, going primarily against NBA assignees both times (Chimezie Metu for Austin/San Antonio and Isaiah Hartenstein for RGV/Houston).

Over his last 5 games, Davis is averaging 14.4 points on 63 percent shooting to up his season averages to 7.3 points per game and 52 percent shooting from the floor. He had been hanging around the mid-high 40’s shooting percentage-wise for most of the season, so it’s good to see those percentages go up.

I see two reasons for the uptick in scoring and efficiency for the one they call "DD." First, his mid-range jumper has been money as of late. It’s always been there, but he is taking it – and making it – more as of late. Secondly, and probably more importantly, Davis has generally stayed out of foul trouble – Davis has not committed more than four personal fouls after an eight-game stretch in which he committed at least five fouls seven times. He has been able to stay on the floor more, playing above his season average in minutes for eight straight games, which in turn has allowed him to stay in the flow of the game and get into a rhythm.

4. Turnover Kings

We’ve talked about the defense a decent bit over the last couple of posts – as of games played through January 14, Santa Cruz leads the G League in scoring defense (99.2 ppg) and defensive rating (98.5) by a wide margin (the Westchester Knicks are second in both categories at 103.1 opponents’ ppg and a 101.1 defensive rating).

A major reason why Santa Cruz has been so good defensively is because they don’t even let the opponent get off a shot a good chunk of the time. Santa Cruz leads the G League in turnovers forced at 20.2 per game and has forced at least 20 turnovers in 11 of the last 13 games, including coercing a 27-turnover performance out of RGV last time out.

It should be no surprise that Santa Cruz also leads the G League in steals per game at 10.7, amassing 16 in the win over the Vipers.

5. Home for Two, Tough Road Swing

Santa Cruz will start the second half of the season with a two-game homestand this week against the Austin Spurs on Wednesday and Salt Lake City Stars on Friday. After that, Santa Cruz hits the road for three very tough games at Oklahoma City on Sunday, Sioux Falls on Tuesday and Stockton on Friday. While Austin is 12-14, the other four teams are above .500, and as we discussed earlier, Santa Cruz is nip-and-tuck with Oklahoma City for the best record in the West and the G League overall. Meanwhile, Stockton is in second place in the Pacific Division, trailing Santa Cruz by four games at the moment.

Overall, this is a big stretch for the Sea Dubs. A 3-2 mark over these next five would be very solid.

Beyond that, we’re a little more than a month away from the Oracle game on Feb. 24 against the OKC Blue, so be sure to keep that on your schedule.

The Wednesday and Friday games can both be seen on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus, tipping off about 30 minutes before Golden State each day.

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