Longtime Warriors aficionado David Barnes gives his take on the current edition of the Bay Area’s NBA franchise.
How better to assess the Golden State Warriors (14-7) current tilt toward respectability than arguing over what would constitute a successful road trip now that they’ve reached four straight wins to start the seven game swing?
Granted, three of those wins came over Detroit, Washington, and Charlotte. However, the fourth was a very satisfying victory in Brooklyn, dispatching the Nets with sparkling play from their two offensive stars: Stephen Curry and David Lee, and surprising contributions from rookie second round pick Draymond Green. Green is proof that being overlooked in the draft is always an important motivator for young players. If you like defense, check out these highlights. If Green can develop any kind of jump-shot, he will get some All-Defensive team mentions in his career.
Golden State beat the Nets, 109-102, in Coach Mark Jackson’s return home to Brooklyn on Friday. The victory was the sort of quality win that wouldn’t have happened last year, or the last few years. It was a total team effort. The chemistry that’s developing on this team is unique, and it is something that you have to credit the coaching staff for. They got a bit of a swagger to them and Curry is a big reason why. His stroke is a thing of beauty and his floor game is showing serious flair. He’s doing a better job of defending the pick-and-roll as well. Draymond Green is the reason why we love basketball. He does everything with passion and tenacity, and his IQ on the court is through the roof. Guys want to be on the floor with him which is why his teams have always won a lot of games. Lee is playing at a very high level and the way he uses his left-hand is indefensible. He and Landry as a tandem are 30+ points and 16 rebounds. This season they out rebounded the Nets twice which is incredible given the size of Brooklyn and the presence of The Beast aka Reggie Evans. Road wins like these bring an invaluable confidence which should last through the season, if they can stay healthy.
The road trip concludes after stops in Miami on Wednesday, Orlando on Friday, and Atlanta on Saturday. Though Miami isn’t playing well at the moment, the Warriors streak is in jeopardy on Wednesday. Orlando provides a chance for redemption after blowing a home game earlier in the month to the Magic. Playing in Atlanta in front of the most ambivalent fans in the NBA is scarcely a home-court advantage.
Assuming one more win of the three games, the Warriors would be looking at a 5-2 road trip. This would have to be considered wildly successful for any team in the association even given the quality of the opponents. So what else would I like to see?
A quality game (not necessarily a win) in Miami tomorrow night. The Heat are not at their best right now and while LeBron is still LeBron, the rest of the cast is still weeks if not months from rounding into form. While Ray Allen is a good add, Mario Chalmers remains handicapped and the Heat still can’t rebound, a strength of the Warriors. David Lee matches up well with Chris Bosh and I’d like to see some Draymond Green on Dwayne Wade. Now it very well might be a game that LeBron takes over but given the way that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been spreading the floor with their outside shooting the W’s should be competitive. And heck, Miami lost to the Wizards who are a truly dreadful team so this is going to be a pretty good litmus test for the Dubs.
Now that we’re a good ways into the season I have some other thoughts on some other things beginning with the whole Andrew Bogut situation. I’m not tremendously upset with the way the team handled things so far but am a little miffed with what’s happened since they owned up to the whole ‘The surgery was bigger than we initially let on’ thing. Nice of them to own this but is it really fair to the fans to go from updates on a regular basis and “He’s getting close” scenarios to one where he seemingly doesn’t exist anymore?
He was the central piece to the Monta Ellis trade and while I get the fact that the team is letting him fully heal and keeping him from playing until he’s 100% he’s gone from his radio show and I’d be hard pressed to even know if he’s still in the bay Area (or LA or Australia). His presence or non-presence was a major factor for the future of the team and this season so hiding him might be better for the Aussie’s head and self-esteem but it also exacerbates the thought that there is still enough uncertainty to be cause for concern for the season ticket holders. And with an Andrew Bogut bobble-head game coming up on 12/18, aren’t we due for something?
On the positive side we have the coaching staff and while I might have been a little uncertain of Mark Jackson’s coaching ability and staff at the beginning of the season I have to hit the reset button here and believe that he and Mark Malone might very well be the perfect combination. Coach Jackson’s personality is a perfect fit for this group of guys and his unfailing support and faith in his team is and has been key. They work hard and the defense and rebounding, both of which are impacted by effort and desire have taken huge steps forward. Young players like Barnes and Thompson are not only doing the things that come naturally but are working hard on doing all of the other things that make for a competitive team night in and night out and players like Curry and Lee are becoming real impact players. Malone’s contributions have also been noticeable as the players comes out with a plan and executes it or take a seat. This culture change has meant plenty of playing time for a guy like Draymond Green but also for the end of quarter adjustments when the team needs to make a stop and we see Kent Bazemore and Charles Jenkins. Everyone has a role on this team so everyone stays ready.
Update: After beating Miami in Miami on Wednesday night, the Warriors’ are rolling along with even more momentum and confidence than they had after the win in Brooklyn. Klay Thompson torched Miami with long-distance jumpers in the first half, Draymond Green played some phenomenally gritty defense on LeBron in the second half, Jarrett Jack created his own shots through dynamic penetration, and the Warriors became only the second team to beat Miami at home this year. It’s amazing what confidence and chemistry can do when a team works together.
David Barnes grew up loving the Boston Celtics. After decades on the west coast, he has developed an abiding love for the Golden State Warriors. Also, he has a pretty solid jump shot for an old fella.