The players are practically the same, but the play is inherently different. This version of the Golden State Warriors is the same only in name. With a new coaching regime, a modified offensive system, a new small forward in the starting lineup and an improved bench, the Warriors continue to show why the team of the last few seasons was just a preview of what would eventually become one of the best teams in the NBA through 16 games.
It was at a similar time last season when the Warriors went on a four game road trip to end the month of November, heading into New Orleans, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Sacramento with a modest 8-6 record. After taking care of the Pelicans, the team lost two straight against the Mavericks and Thunder, respectively, in games they easily could’ve won.
In Dallas, Klay Thompson held Monta Ellis to 4 points on 2-of-16 shooting, Stephen Curry and Thompson combined for 49 points and nine made threes and David Lee contributed his own 20 points and 12 rebounds. The game was lost for a multitude of reasons, one being Shane Larkin stopping Klay Thompson on consecutive drives with minutes to go.
Two nights later, Russell Westbrook drained a corner three with 0.1 seconds left to end the game in overtime. The healthy Thunder squad was 11-2 heading into that game, with their duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combining for 59 points on 17-of-47 shooting. Andre Iguodala was out, but the game was still lost in the final stanza.
These two contests were challenging, albeit winnable, games that version of the Warriors found ways to lose. This season, for more reasons than one, the team is finding ways to win. At a similar point in the season, the Warriors embarked on a five game East Coast road trip that saw them play five Eastern Conference teams that despite their records, would present similar challenges.
There are plenty of games that teams should win that they don’t over the course of an NBA regular season. Scheduling, injuries, off shooting nights are all common occurrences over a season, and they happen to every team. But, there is a difference between not winning and game and losing them. Over their recent five game road trip, this Warriors team – in contrast to last season’s team – is finding ways to win games when they’re not playing up to par.
In sports, success is based often times by personnel, but the powers that control said personnel can change the outcome of any given game at any given time. In 16 games, Steve Kerr and his staff have displayed a cunning ability to not only revamp an already established team, but also improve upon what deeply hindered this team last season.