If you ask Dirk Nowitzki or any members of the 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks team about the Golden State Warriors, they probably won’t give you an answer.
The last time the Warriors were in the playoffs, they were rocking Oracle Arena in the 2007 NBA Playoffs. A late surge allowed them to sneak past the Clippers and capture the eighth seed in the Western Conference, where they had a favorable matchup with Dallas.
Golden State finished off Dallas in six games, and while they were eliminated in five games by the Utah Jazz in the second round, it was a great experience for the Warriors and their rambunctious fans, which defined home-court advantage for the Warriors. And now, they are experiencing it again.
After thrashing the Boston Celtics, the Warriors are 21-10 and in position to snatch one of the top seeds in the Western Conference. And they deserve it. They have beaten the Heat, Pacers, Celtics, Clippers, Hawks (twice), Nets (twice), and Nuggets this year, while performing admirably against the Lakers.
The Warriors are one of the most talented teams in the NBA. Under Don Nelson, the Warriors were known as a team that scored at will and were scored on at will. However, they are 19th in defense this year, which isn’t bad considering they rank ninth in offense with 101.3 PPG (prior to the Celtics game). The Warriors allow an average of 98.7 points per game, giving them a decent average margin of +2.6 PPG.
Even though there don’t seem to be any stars on the team, the Warriors have some very good players. David Lee averages 20 PPG and 11 rebounds per game, as he has helped make up for the loss of Andrew Bogut (who will be back) by racking up tons of rebounds. The Warriors are seventh in rebounds, and Lee is a a big factor into that ranking.
Carl Landry is also a big reason, as the new forward has really boosted the Warriors coming off the bench, scoring key baskets and fighting down low for rebounds. He has made tons of clutch shots while averaging 12.5 PPG and 6.7 RPG.
The Warriors are fine down low with rebounds even without Bogut, because they also have Draymond Green, Andres Biedrins and Festus Ezeli to get rebounds). But they also have firepower up top, with three incredibly talented guards that can do it all.
Stephen Curry has had injury problems, but he hasn’t been hampered this year. The shooting guard out of Davidson has averaged 6.4 assists per game and 20 points per game, while leading the NBA in December with 55 three-pointers. Klay Thompson, Golden State’s other dynamic shooting guard, made 52 in December, which was second in the league.
Curry and Thompson definitely know how to shoot the triple, and so does the rest of the team. The Warriors have made 38.6 percent of their three-point attempts, good for fifth in the league. Point guard Jarrett Jack has been a large part of that, since he has made 43.9 percent of his threes.
Jack has boosted Golden State’s offense and defense by taking on the league’s best point guards while also averaging 12.3 PPG and 5.1 APG. He has helped Golden State take seventh place with an average of 22.6 assists per game, while also avoiding turnovers. He is up there with the best of the best with his 2.8 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
You name a major category, and the Warriors will be near the top in it. They are an incredible team, with top-to-bottom talent. They have scorers in Curry, Lee and Thompson, rebounders in Landry, Lee and soon Bogut, and passers in Curry and Jack.
Experience could be thought of as an issue, but Richard Jefferson is still on the team as a reserve small forward, and guys like Bogut and Jack are veterans. Jefferson may be a reserve, but that’s only because he’s backing up a multi-talented rookie in Harrison Barnes. Barnes isn’t great at driving to the basket, but he can pass, rebound, defend and shoot if needed. He is the final piece to the starting lineup, spreading the ball around for the scorers, grabbing rebounds, and playing quality defense.
If the Warriors keep rolling like this, they will probably claim one of the top four seeds. The Grizzlies, Clippers, Thunder, Spurs and Warriors are the main teams fighting for those spots right now, and I think that the washed-up Spurs will be overtaken by the high-scoring, energetic Warriors. The Grizzlies lack firepower, and while the same can be said about the Warriors, Golden State is a complete team that can do everything, from rebounding to shooting to passing to defense.
The Bay Area fans have shown no reason to believe that they won’t go all-out for the playoffs, as they have done exactly that with the 49ers, Giants and Sharks. With the home fans at their back, it’s hard for me to think that the Warriors wouldn’t win a series against a team like the Nuggets or Grizzlies with the home fans and the energy on their side.
Golden State is on a roll right now, and they won’t slow down. They have proven that they can hang with the best teams, and they have proven that they are complete and can do everything. And when we see teams like that, we often see those teams going deep into the playoffs, even if they aren’t the most experienced team. Right?