Golden State Warriors make unforgettable In-Season Tournament debut

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry prepares to shoot during an NBA in-season tournament basketball game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City.

Nate Billings/AP

If the NBA is going to force an obvious cash grab down our throats, it better be entertaining as hell to watch. 

Such was the case in the Golden State Warriors’ thrilling 141-139 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. The game was Golden State’s first with ramifications for the “In-Season Tournament,” the NBA’s new gimmick that nobody asked for but that is sure to net the league millions and millions. 

For the second straight game, the Warriors triumphed on a game-winner from one of the Splash Brothers. After Klay Thompson sealed the Dubs’ win over Sacramento on Wednesday, Steph Curry had the honors on Friday, floating a layup over the outstretched arm of Chet Holmgren to give the Warriors the lead with 0.2 second left. 

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Steph stole the show with his third 30-point performance of the young season but the Dubs got contributions up and down the lineup. Seven different Warriors either scored double-digit points or recorded double-digit assists.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren drives as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green defends during the second half of an NBA in-season tournament basketball game Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren drives as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green defends during the second half of an NBA in-season tournament basketball game Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City.

Nate Billings/AP

But their offensive excellence was nearly matched by the Thunder. With 24 points and eight rebounds, Holmgren continued to prove that Victor Wembanyama hasn’t wrapped up the Rookie of the Year race just yet. The game was a nail-biter the whole way through, with neither team leading by more than 9 points at any point. The fourth quarter saw 12 different lead changes. 

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The game even featured a controversial call at the end, a must-have for any truly memorable contest. 

That being said, the excellence of the game shouldn’t take away from the silliness of the In-Season Tournament. The scoring bonanza took place on Oklahoma City’s horrifically distracting neon blue home court. (Before any Dubs fans make fun of the court, they should look at the Warriors’ upcoming “City Edition” uniforms.) And all the Warriors get for the win is one step closer to the $500,000 grand prize, a rounding error for the likes of Steph Curry and Chris Paul. 

If the Warriors get through the group and quarterfinals, they’ll be forced to — sorry, get the opportunity to — make an unnecessary trip to Las Vegas for the tournament’s semifinals championship. The tournament games also, confusingly, all count for the regular season record *except* for the championship game.

Like the Play-In Tournament before it, the In-Season Tournament is a manufactured and extremely lucrative opportunity for the NBA that isn’t likely to have much of an effect on the course of the season. But if the Warriors’ tournament games continue to be at this caliber, no one will be complaining.

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