It took a Draymond Green swing that almost landed on a referee that ended up ejecting him out of the game for a second technical seconds later. It took a 22-0 run that left Stephen Curry at his most emphatic, celebrating each shot and forced turnover like it was Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. It took Klay Thompson jacking one up from 28 feet without so much an ounce of sense or conscience. But finally, the Golden State Warriors produced a quarter that made them feel just at home.
After the 42-15 3rd quarter, the Warriors evoked memories and flashes of the Showtime Lakers on steroids they were supposed to be. It hasn’t happened much this season, if at all. While they’ve been historically dominant and the overwhelming favorite throughout, there just hasn’t been the same relentless assault they were known for in the past two years.
Perhaps the scariest part of this first half has been that despite the accolades and records, the team has still yet to function at its highest peak. Curry has yet to consistently rip 3s all season. Durant has taken a little bit of a backseat. Draymond’s shooting has yet to regress back up even with the less shots. And large swaths of the bench has worn down as we reach March.
So the Warriors head into break with a 47-9 record, needing to rail off 26 straight to even the greatest regular season of all time. They won’t and that’s okay. This campaign has a different feel to it. Last season’s was built so much of the sustainability of what seemed so unsustainable. Stephen Curry’s shooting, the bench’s explosive offense at times, and the patching around the edges by Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. They may not have peaked in the early parts of the regular season but they certainly looked most comfortable then.
This year’s iteration has a sense of a team just biding its time and waiting to pounce when it starts to truly matter. The coasting, half-hearted efforts, and the volume of blowouts speak to a squad that’s gearing up for something more. Perhaps it won’t happen. Maybe they won’t even need the fully operational death machine to take the title. But given what has transpired the past 3 years, this season certainly owns the greatest potential of them all.