Inside the Scope: Golden State Warriors (15-7) x Orlando Magic (8-13)
- Tip Off: 4:00 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA
Orlando Magic Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 95.9 (29th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 99.6 (8th in NBA)
- Points: Arron Afflalo, 16.1 PPG
- Rebounds: Nikola Vucevic, 8.8 RPG
- Assists: Jameer Nelson, 5.9 APG
- Steals: Jameer Nelson, 1.43 SPG
- Blocks: Nikola Vucevic, 1.1 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Andrew Nicholson, 54.7% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: E’Twaun Moore, 39.3% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Magic Basketball.
Preview: Considering that the Golden State Warriors have already played more than quarter of their games this season, the Warriors World staff figured now would be the best time to look back at the events that have transpired so far this season. We go 3-on-3 to discuss this.
1. What’s been the worst lost of the season for the Warriors so far?
Jack Winter: November 5th at Sacramento. The season’s first week seems like eons ago, the Warriors still reeling from the injury to Brandon Rush, Andrew Bogut on-court for a strict minutes restriction, and the team lacking the discernible identity they’ve built over the last month. But that doesn’t excuse losing to a lowly bunch like the 7-14 Kings even on the road. Golden State only lost by a final score of 94-92, but it took a big fourth quarter to put the game in reach in its deciding minutes; late in the third the Warriors were down by 15.
After this one it seemed like we were in for another season of the same old ‘Dubs. My how we were wrong, and comparing where Golden State is now to where they were then is nearly as impressive as their play over the last 10 games. Still, that doesn’t mean the loss to Sacramento – division and in-state rival, after all – won’t stick out like a sore thumb all season long.
Jordan Ramirez: I’ll go with the Orlando loss at home. Most will say the Denver loss in 2OT or the Sacramento loss early on in the season, but the loss to the Magic stood out for me. The Magic were on the second leg of a back to back, coming into Oracle Arena one night after their resounding victory over the deflating Los Angeles Lakers. This was the last game the Warriors would play at home for nearly two weeks. The Magic were (and still are) an inferior team. This should have been a fairly easy win as the Warriors embark on their longest road trip of the season. Instead, the Warriors came out slow, sluggish and uninterested as the Magic shot their way to an eight point win. J.J. Redick scored 22 off the bench and Aaron Afflalo and Glen Davis combined for 48 points in what turned into an impressive two game stretch for them. Thankfully the effort shown in that loss has yet to be shown again as the Warriors haven’t lost since.
J.M. Poulard: At this point it’s nitpicking, but the loss to the Orlando Magic at home is perhaps the worst one in my eyes. Had the Dubs taken care of business in that one, they’d be riding at nine-game winning streak.
2. What’s been the biggest win of the season for the Warriors so far?
Jack Winter: Wednesday at Miami. Don’t get it twisted; the 114-110 win over the division-leading Clippers at Staples Center on November 3rd (two days before the loss to the Kings, actually) looms much larger in the standings than a win against a non-conference foe. But this was the Heat, this was LeBron, and by the end of the year it may well serve as the luminary flare that signaled Golden State’s arrival as a league-wide threat. Plus, the game came down to the wire, yielded a true team-wide effort, and gave the Warriors nine wins in ten games.
A win like this – evidenced by five (!) Thursday posts profiling it on Warriors World – just means more in terms of hope and belief than perhaps would any other. If the ‘Dubs continue this recent stretch of play into the New Year and spring and gain a playoff berth in the process, we’ll come back to that December night in South Beach as the time we all knew for sure it was really possible.
Jordan Ramirez: This might be prisoner of the moment, but who cares. Wednesday’s win over the defending champion Miami Heat in their own house is the only acceptable answer here. For a team trying to find their identity in this league and for an organization trying to change their futile reputation, there was no bigger win this season…or any season since 2007. The Warriors didn’t steal this win, it was earned. They competed right from tip-off and for the most part controlled the pace of the game. LeBron went all LeBron for a short time in the second half, but the Warriors were otherwise the better team that night. This win put the Warriors on the national radar and have now supplanted themselves as team worth taking note of. People outside #DubNation now know about and care about the Warriors. This win was the penultimate moment in a remarkable stretch of games for this young team. Their job is to keep the moment going.
J.M. Poulard: Although many will probably select the victory over the Miami Heat — and it’s truly hard to find fault with the selection — I actually believe that the biggest win for the Dubs was early in the season against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clips were riding high, played with a lot of swagger and presented the aura of a squad that could potentially be the best in the Western Conference. And yet, all the Warriors did was go to Staples Center and snatch the win from Chris Paul and company thanks in large part to some stingy fourth quarter defense and an emerging crunch time assassin in Stephen Curry.
Again, the Heat victory gave the team some legitimacy in the eyes of others around the league, but the win in Los Angeles was not only a sign of things to come, but it also confirmed to the team that their current blueprint was in fact the path to success.
3. What’s been the best play of the season for the Warriors so far?
Jack Winter: Jarrett Jack to Draymond Green for the game-winner at Miami. Harrison Barnes’ baptism of Minnesota bully Nikola Pekovic on November 24th is a worthy challenger, but how do you beat the deciding basket in the final second of the season’s biggest win? You don’t. Plus, that play signifies what the Warriors are all about – greater good, taking advantage of opportunities, and non-stars stepping up when they must.
Golden State has received All-Star level play from Stephen Curry and David Lee, and Klay Thompson may be the league’s best young shooting guard, but the team’s improvement is owed nearly as much to additions like Jack, Green, and Carl Landry as anything else. If you don’t know, now you know.
Jordan Ramirez: Another prisoner of the moment answer, but the Draymond Green backdoor cut for the game winner in Miami has to be the play of the season. Sure, Shane Battier went above the screen and forgot to rotate towards Green, but so what? The Warriors (gasp!) set up a play and it worked. Whether the end result is what Mark Jackson drew up doesn’t matter. The off-ball movement by Klay Thompson was part of the play and that led to Draymond getting open (along with the Battier miscue). This play, alone with the Harrison Barnes dunk, are the two best plays of the season. While the Barnes dunk might’ve been more jaw-dropping, the Green putback was infinitely more important. The celebration after the play probably was too high school (can you blame them?), but this team has the camaraderie of a high school team. You couldn’t help but be excited and happy for this team after that play.
J.M. Poulard: Harrison Barnes’ dunk over Nikola Pekovic easily comes to mind, but Draymond Green’s game-winning basket against the Miami Heat stands tallest. It spoke volumes about the team as a whole as the players that got the team there got an opportunity to close out the game and Green was rewarded for setting a good screen with the intent of springing his teammate loose.
Team play and execution have gone a long way this season for the Dubs and Green’s game winner was proof of that.
Bonus: Who is the Warriors’ team MVP so far?
Jack Winter: Curry. With sincere apologies to Lee and hat-tips to both Landry and Jack, no player’s been more instrumental in Golden State’s 15-7 start than Curry. Arguably the league’s top point guard over the last month or so, he’s the engine that drives the Warriors offense and is the NBA leader in clutch scoring. And all that defensive improvement the team’s made this season? Believe it or not, Curry deserves a lot of credit for that, too, showing quick hands, quicker feet, and a physicality that makes him a pest to exploit in pick-and-rolls. Just ask Mark Jackson.
The glass-ankled, undersized, combo guard of yore is gone and the time we’d hoped to see since 2008 is finally here. Steph Curry is on his way to becoming an elite all-around NBA player, and taking the Warriors with him on his rapid ascent up the ranks.
Jordan Ramirez: Stephen Curry. The 19.5 PPG and 6.5 APG are remarkable, but the leadership and maturity Curry has shown these first 22 games is astounding. The occasional pull up three and sloppy pass aside Curry has displayed immense growth in his fourth season. Smart decisions and high production has been the name of Curry’s game this season. No one doubted Curry’s talent, what was questioned was a) his health and b) his potential in the NBA. Curry has silenced critics this year, and while you can make a strong case for David Lee as team MVP this team is being carried by the former Davidson star.
J.M. Poulard: It’s been Stephen Curry by a mile. The Davidson product in not only a world class shooter whose confidence has seemingly never been higher at the pro level, but his production has been astonishing to say the least.
Curry’s playmaking and scoring have been a joy to watch so far this season and it’s been a big part of why the Warriors are off to a great start. Not only is he playing great basketball, he’s also accepting to occasionally take a backseat in games when his teammates have it going, for the sake of maintaining continuity and good overall team play.