(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
Beachcombings: Big Week for the Sea Dubs
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. Big Win Against the Blue
So the six-game win streak came to a halt Tuesday night in South Dakota with a 103-96 loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but probably the more important result happened Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City, where the Sea Dubs took down the Oklahoma City Blue 113-103 in a matchup of the two best records in the G League.
As usual, the Sea Dubs got it done with defense, limiting the Blue to just 40 percent shooting from the field and would have held the Blue to under 100 if it weren’t for a late flurry by OKC (34 fourth-quarter points). The offense also came to life, as Santa Cruz shot 53 percent from the floor and a whopping 57 percent from downtown (16 of 28). The Blue might be reeling a tad despite the gaudy 21-9 record, but that was a huge win no matter how you slice it.
If you had to split Oklahoma City and Sioux Falls, you’d prefer to beat the Blue and drop the game to the Skyforce. Why? Well, not only is Oklahoma City Santa Cruz’s closest competitor to the top spot in the G and the Western Conference, but Santa Cruz already clinched the season series with Sioux Falls by winning the first two games against the ‘Force in Santa Cruz. Meanwhile, Santa Cruz hadn’t played the Blue this year until Sunday, so by winning Sunday, the Sea Dubs now only need to split the remaining two meetings to take a potential tiebreaker.
I tell ya, it’d sure be great to win that Oracle game against the Blue on Feb. 24 (Klay Thompson bobbleheads for the first 10,000 fans; don’t miss it!).
2. More on That Defense
The Sea Dubs still top the G League in opponents’ scoring, defensive rating, steals per game and opponents’ turnovers, so nothing new to report on that front, but how about this? For the first time in since the 2013-14 season, the Warriors held four straight opponents under 100 points following the team’s 106-97 win over Salt Lake City on Friday night (a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might indicate; Santa Cruz led by 30 before Salt Lake City chipped away at the large lead when Santa Cruz played its reserves). Even the 2015 G League title team that stood its ground on the defensive end wasn’t able to accomplish that feat. In a pace-frenzied league, the Sea Dubs lock in.
3. A Dominating 2-0 Homestand
So we mentioned the convincing 106-97 win over Salt Lake City Friday; that was the back end of a two-game homestand that started with a 116-82 smackdown of the Austin Spurs on Wednesday. It was arguably the most impressive performance of the season, as the Sea Dubs came within a bucket of setting a new franchise record for largest margin of victory and led by 40 points in the fourth quarter, two points shy of equaling the largest lead in franchise history.
After a nip-and-tuck four-game road trip to the state of Texas that saw Santa Cruz go 3-1 by outscoring the opponents by a combined one point, it made for a more relaxing time for all Sea Dubs supporters at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
4. Juan Toscano-Anderson Heating Up
One of the big positives from the seven-point loss to Sioux Falls on Tuesday night was reserve forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, who scored a G League career-high 16 points while shooting 6-of-9 from the field, and – here’s what you probably wouldn’t expect – a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown.
Entering Tuesday, Juan was 4 of 15 from 3-point territory for the season. That said, he has shown more of a willingness to shoot from the midrange and perimeter in recent games, as evidenced by a 2-of-2 showing from beyond the arc against Texas on Jan. 5.
I had a chance to catch up with Juan before Friday’s game against Salt Lake City and he said he’d been feeling more comfortable with his perimeter jumper in recent games, having adjusted to a longer 3-point line after playing professionally in Mexico (the FIBA 3-point line is about 19 inches shorter than the NBA 3-point line). His shooting stroke is looking a lot better, and if he can multiply his current 7-of-18 rate by a handful, he’ll really become a dangerous player. He’s already a key cog in the Santa Cruz effort for his defense and offensive rebounding; if he can consistently shoot 37 percent from three, watch out.
5. Back to Cali for the Weekend
The big games continue this weekend, as the Sea Dubs return to California to take on the Stockton Kings on the road Friday night before hosting the South Bay Lakers on Sunday.
Stockton is in second place in the Pacific Division, trailing Santa Cruz by five games for the top spot. The Sea Dubs handily beat the Kings earlier in the season, so a win on Friday would ensure at least a season split with the Kings. There’s even a bus taking fans from Santa Cruz to Stockton, so that should certainly be a fun one.
Sunday’s game will feature a first in Santa Cruz Warriors history – I will not be broadcasting it, as I’ll be on pinch-hit duty on the radio side for Golden State. Enjoy the stylings of Grant Liffmann, co-host of the Warriors Outsiders alongside Sea Dubs color analyst Drew Shiller, who will team up with his good buddy Drew and our sideline reporter Adam Johnson to provide what I hear will be a Players’ Only-esque broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area. Should be great! Can’t wait to tune in from Indiana.
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