MIAMI – Apparently, the Warriors' keys to their success did not involve adjustments to their playbook, rotation or focus. The Warriors reached a 123-95 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday apparently due to adjustments to their itinerary the previous day in a city known for its pleasant weather, beautiful beaches and lively nightlife.
"I just needed to get a little bit of sun and hit the clubs – that's what the coaches and I did," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, with obvious sarcasm. "We were out all night, we were in rave, I did not return to the hotel until 9 a.m."
Clearly, Kerr was joking, saying he could not stay until 10:30 p.m. The Warriors were not joking about how a day off in the heat of Saturday helped them beat the Heat on Sunday.
"You feel good about yourself when you have that kind of weather," said Warriors forward Draymond Green. . "It was definitely refreshing for Steve to give us a day off, it's a lot of confidence there, but you must be a professional team and make the effort like we did tonight."
The Warriors (18-6) did not have the necessary effort immediately.
Frustration arose with defensive failures, since Miami (11-12) scored 21 of 44 from the field and 9 of 18 from the 3-point range in the first half. Tension also arose when Warriors reserve guard Shaun Livingston was sent off with 6:24 left in the second quarter after having a face-to-face argument with an official Courtney Kirkland for not calling.
Then, the Warriors addressed some of their first problems with something that has cured some of their ills during the fourth part of the season. The Warriors used the third quarter to dominate in almost every form and exhibit what Kerr called a "great effort for all."
The Warriors opened the second half with Kevin Durant throwing a baseline mate. They continued a 12-2 run with Stephen Curry scoring 10 of his team's 30 points before Miami lost the timeout, as it was down, 78-63, with 7:19 left. They finished the third quarter with a 99-77 lead over the Heat after overcoming them, 37-17.
"We're not as good as simply clbadifying someone and letting him do what he wants," said Durant, who had 24 points in 9 of 18 shots and seven badists. "They came out and played aggressively and physically and made shots, but after a while our defense picked up and we were able to get out and the coach called some great plays and we executed them."
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said that "many of his guys come to life when they start rolling it." So it should not be surprising that Thompson added 19 points in 8 of 15 shots, while backup guard Omri Cbadpi added 10 points. Meanwhile, the Heat fired 12-of-37 from the field and 5-of-19 from the 3-point range in the second half.
For better or for worse, however, the Warriors have partly defined their 2017-18 season in this way. They entered Sunday's game with an average of 31.9 points per game in the third quarter, while outscoring their opponents by 6.1 points. Such numbers have helped the Warriors exercise their superiority or mask their complacency and inconsistency in the first half.
"I like that pattern, that pattern is good," Kerr said. "Going out in the third quarter, making defensive stops and establishing our defense and going for a run, has been useful for us."
That worked for the Warriors on Sunday, in part because of their rejuvenation on Saturday.  "It's all for me." It's good for your soul and your body, "Thompson said." It's good for your mind especially. "You're in the gym for many games a year, so be outside for that sun in South Florida long ago."  And that includes enjoying a dominant victory over the Heat.
"It was good for us to take our minds off basketball," said Durant. "Being here in Miami is a great opportunity to forget about the game for a couple of hours, I think a lot of guys relaxed, had a good time and enjoyed the weather, we woke up refreshed this morning and showed how we played."
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