The Week that Was:
Three home wins that were all impressive in their own ways. The Warriors dismantled the Pistons early, leading to the rare sight of second quarter garbage time. Thursday’s game against Oklahoma City was much more exciting and Andre Iguodala’s buzzer-beater covered up some alarming tactical flaws that nearly cost Golden State the game in the last five minutes (I wrote about this for RealGM after the game- http://basketball.realgm.com/article/230728/The-Process). Winning the game marks the first home signature win of the season. Finally, the Dubs crushed a Utah team that they should crush to make it a clean homestand and week.
While Andre Iguodala’s all-around excellence warrant him praise, the most important note for me beyond Jermaine O’Neal’s injury has to be the continuing rise of Klay Thompson. While still a secondary scorer (meaning he has trouble reliably creating his own chances), Klay is such a threat on the offensive end that teams will have to pay attention to him in a different way on the court. That shift should mean better opportunities for Iguodala and possibly Stephen Curry depending on how opponents handle it. While Klay may never demand the double teams Steph already gets, opposing teams thinking that he will annihilate weak single coverage could move Golden State up in the already tight grouping of elite Western Conference teams.
The Soapbox: The New Normal
Ten games it, it seems I am finally getting used to the Warriors taking teams out early at home. While all five of their home wins have been against opponents on the back end of a back-to-back (which happens seventeen times total this season, a remarkably high number), the importance of having games where the outcome appears pretty set at halftime cannot be understated.
First, it helps reduce the injury risk for the key players. Taking big leads allows players like Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut to play less, meaning less opportunities for random injuries and less high-minute games which could help limit the problems that come more from aggregate stress on the body.
Beyond that, it certainly appears that it would be easier to handle mentally. Winning frequently can help plenty but adding frequent games that are not in doubt fosters confidence and also allows young players a chance to get on the floor with less consequences. Who knows, maybe Kuzmic or Nedovic can gain the confidence and experience necessary to play big minutes sooner.
The other encouraging part of this is that it has extended beyond the dregs of the league like one win Utah to more competitive teams like Detroit. Thinking of potential playoff teams (though that is looking less likely now than at the start of the season) as games the team should win shows a difference in mentality that I expect to be useful unless they begin to lose those tilts with some regularity.
After this week’s tests of Memphis and Portland, we will have to wait until almost Christmas to see if this run of clean home wins can extend but this potential new normal would be a welcome change for the team and fans alike.
The Week to Come:
A strange week and not just because the Warriors alternate home and road games. After traveling to Utah for an easy win, Golden State tries to avenge their worst loss of the season against a Grizzlies team that they made look much better than they are offensively. I hope to see plenty of Iguodala on Conley since Memphis does not have the weapons to punish Curry and Klay at the two and three. After those ones, the Dubs finish out the week with a back to back with the first leg against the Lakers in Staples and then a quick flight back to face the surprising Trail Blazers (also on a back-to-back) and Oakland native Damian Lillard.
3-1 would be a nice statement for this team.