When do we start worrying about the Golden State Warriors? They keep winning, and do so again on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, to the tune of a 114-101 finish. But it has yet to produce or satisfy the type of performance we expect from the defending champions. The flash isn’t there, not for more than a few minutes at a time. The defense locks in, but wanes when the opponents start to out-physical them at the point of attack. And finally, the turnovers. It’s not so much something one can fix but to mitigate. Put that together and while the Warriors are 50-14 and on a modest 6-game win streak, it still feels like they have yet to wake up.
There seems to be to ways Warriors fans are taking this weird, extremely long, regular season. So I’m going to break down the game and compare it to the two types of die-hard fans. Down 6 points in the first quarter, turning the ball over 3 times in the first 3 minutes, and all this after 3 days of rest, the Warriors seemed simply exhausted. Then in the second quarter, the turnovers piled up higher, the offense grinded to a halt, and 13 points were scored as they fell behind 53-48 at halftime. While the Houston Rockets keep sprinting to the 1-seed it appears that the Warriors are finally running out of gas as they chase their 4th Finals appearance in a row. A team that coasted their way to a title a season before, there isn’t much to prove in the regular season, but the problem will come in the postseason when they try to flip on the switch. Doing it for 5 minutes works against the Brooklyn Nets but how about when you need to go a full half for the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder? Draymond Green turned the ball over 6 times, failed to finish over Joe Harris, and the rest of the bench ran around in circles trying to find an open shot. The Warriors aren’t doing it now, perhaps they’re trying, perhaps not, but it might not be in the reserve when it truly counts.
Then there is the 25-0 run, the Stephen Curry takeover, the Draymond Green/Andre Iguodala locking in to snuff the cutters and shooters, and the 4th quarter runaway. Look closely enough, peer into the mind of Steve Kerr and the veterans of dynasties past, and you’ll see a team slowly ramping up their activity and saving what they know they have, for the biggest games of the season. Why exert energy against the Brooklyn Nets just to prove a point to the faceless masses? What’s that win you? Andre Iguodala picked an appropriate demarcation point of the All-Star Break, and now he’s forcing the issue on both sides of the ball. Steph’s rhythm is as good as his MVP years, and KD and Klay are as solid as ever on both sides of the ball. Though Jordan Bell got hurt (looks mild so far), he was getting early run off the bench and able to stay with quick combo guards like Spencer Dinwiddie and D’angelo Russell. That will assuredly come in handy in the postseason against the likes of Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul. For now, they simply need to stay alive in the race for the no.1 seed, push Houston enough to the point where they are going all out, prompting fatigue in the later rounds, something the rest-minded Warriors are surely to avoid given their heavy precautions on every person. And come April, May, and June, you’ll see the team that made you believe this was the greatest ever. They know themselves best, and they know the treacherous waters of the long regular season better than anyone else in the league. Yes, they’re still Light Years ahead.