Our weekly voyage through the Power Rankings of major media outlets continues, with us taking a peek at Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS sports and their arbitrary lists of the NBA’s best teams.
Sports Illustrated dropped Golden State to sixth; ESPN has the team at no. 5; and CBS sports has the Warriors fourth. It’s impossible to argue against any of the outlets dropping the Warriors down the list. Golden State went 1-2, dropping a winnable game against the Nuggets at home and losing a road game to Kevin Durant.
The Kevin Durant 54-point game is excusable: when Oklahoma City’s superstar gets it going, very few teams will actually compete with the Thunder. Yet, the Warriors still competed, behind a fantastic, 38-point performance from Stephen Curry. The home loss against the middling Nuggets is… not so much.
A bounce back road win against the New Orleans Pelicans is nice, but N.O. is driving head first to #TankCity, so exalting too much energy in arguing that it was enough to keep the Warriors perched on top of the rankings isn’t really worth it.
So, for the most part, each ranking is fair. Golden State’s defense has registered just a 113.2 defensive rating over the last three games–the three games these lists have to judge it off of. Some of that has to do with Durant’s incredible night, but that rating was a staggering 119 against the Nuggets.
There is a way for Golden State to bounce back and it starts tonight in a home game against the league’s best team, the Indiana Pacers. Indiana is blowing teams away with one of the league’s greatest regular season defenses. And the offense? Well, it’s powered by an inarguable superstar–Paul George–and complete balance from the rest of the guys.
The Warriors are–at the time of this writing–1.5-point favorites, but that really doesn’t change what people are saying about the game. 88.5 percent of people who have voted on ESPN’s Streak for Cash are in favor of the Pacers and 62 percent of experts are picking Indiana to cover the spread. So while Vegas gives the Warriors the odds, they are really the underdogs in the minds of most.
Why wouldn’t they be? The Warriors are 2-3 in their last five and have sputtered both offensively and defensively during that stretch. The Pacers have won their last four and 10 of their last 12. They are allowing just 92.5 points per game to Western Conference teams. They may not enter the playoffs as favorites, but no one will comfortably bet against them.
But isn’t that a great place for Golden State to be? The team may have sputtered over its past five games, but a win would catapult it back to the Top 3 in next week’s rankings. For now, we sit and wait.