The second week of the NBA season has just passed and the Golden State Warriors came off their road trip to a 2-2 record. A popular football adage states, “You are what your record says you are,” but I don’t believe the record is indicative of what’s happened over this past week.
The Dubs started the week off strongly as they took on the previously undefeated Philadelphia 76ers. The same 76ers, mind you, which had beaten the champion Miami Heat and Eastern Conference heavyweights, the Chicago Bulls.
However, once Monday night rolled around, the 76ers looked utterly inept. The Dubs’ defense had clearly frustrated Michael Carter-Williams as he shot 4-for-17 from the field and was a non-factor for the entire game. This was also just one of those games where the entire offense was on the same page. It seems as if the perimeter players have been taking turns at having big scoring nights and this night clearly belonged to Andre Iguodala. He hit 7-of-11 3s and had a total of 32 points, most of which came off open looks. Stephen Curry also had himself a ball game, dropping a triple-double for the second time in his career. Golden State simply dominated this game; it was essentially over by the end of the third quarter, when the score was 98-65.
The Warriors then stopped by in Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although this wasn’t the barnburner I was expecting it to be, it still was mildly entertaining. David Lee had himself a solid double-double, scoring 22 points while collecting 15 rebounds. It also was Klay Thompson’s turn to light it up on the Warriors’ perimeter scoring roulette as he burned the T’Wolves from 3-point range, hitting 6-of-9 from deep and corralling another 30-point performance, his second of the season. It was also Harrison Barnes’ first game of the season after missing most of preseason and the first few games thanks to an injury to his toe. He played well, scoring 14 points in just 14 minutes, but his return was overshadowed by an injury to Curry’s ankle thanks to Ricky Rubio’s overaggressive play. Curry tried to return to the game, but was eventually pulled for the rest of the night.
The Dubs’ stop in San Antonio made for an interesting game. With Curry sitting this game out, Iguodala became the primarily ball-handler while Barnes slid into the starting lineup. This was a defensive slugfest, with very little scoring. Toney Douglas was the Warriors’ unlikely hero, as he led all players with 21 points for the game. It just seemed to be his night, as he nailed jump shot after jump shot. The Warriors had a chance to win this one after two huge missed free throws by Tony Parker, but Mark Jackson botched the late-game management, a serious concern since last year.
Mark Jackson is a great motivator and gets the most out of his players, but he’s just not a great “X’s and O’s” coach, and it was evident all last year as his play-calling in clutch situations was truly awful. The Warriors had two shots for the game-tying or game-winning shot and Jackson blew both opportunities. Iguodala almost bailed Jackson out as he put a heavily contested layup in traffic that bounced around the rim before it eventually rolled off the right side basket. One encouraging thing to note is that even without Curry, Golden State can still remain competitive.
The game against the Memphis Grizzlies featured an incredibly poor defensive performance by the Golden State Warriors. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol bullied the Dubs in the paint; the Grizzlies as a team put scored 54 points from there alone. On the offensive end, almost every Warrior starter had a bad night except for Iguodala, who hit 80 percent of his shots from the field. Curry returned and started this game but wasn’t as efficient as he normally is. Still led the Dubs in scoring, however. This was an old-fashioned beatdown by the Grizzlies. They simply were the more physical team and they showed why the FedEx Forum has lately been called the “Grind House.”
This Week’s Pros:
For three out of the four games on this road trip, the offense looked, at the very least, competent. If Curry didn’t have to sit out against San Antonio, I would’ve raised that rating to good. Even then, the Dubs hung around with the Spurs, but I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance like that from Douglas. Also Draymond Green is once again making the most out of his minutes out there, especially on the defensive end. I’m considering him to be one of the league’s best players that average less than 20 minutes per game. The kid is a straight hustle and heart player who gives his most on every night. I’m looking forward to more Harrison Barnes coming off the bench.
This Week’s Cons:
Defensive rebounding is still an issue and it was exploited badly in the final quarter of the Spurs game. David Lee and Andrew Bogut need to quit getting lazy and remember to box out. It’s starting to become inexcusable. Mark Jackson’s play-calling in the clutch also needs some more seasoning. The bench unit needs to be more productive. Hopefully, the return of Harrison Barnes can stimulate that, but I might go crazy if I see Marreese Speights shoot another long-range 2 and follow up the clunker with poor defense and rebounding. I can’t wait for Festus Ezeli to come back (that’s if he comes back this season); his defense and work on the glass are needed.
Next Week’s Preview:
The Dubs are following up their road trip with a three game stint back at the “Roaracle” Arena. This week’s schedule should be easier as the play the Detroit Pistons, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the winless Utah Jazz.
The new-look Pistons are an interesting team. They have incredible size in their frontcourt while their starting backcourt tandem is new to the team (this year). It’s going to be interesting how Mark Jackson handles the three-headed monster that is Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Defending Smith is the biggest concern because he has power forward size, but still has the speed and athleticism of a swingman. Klay Thompson will most likely guard the diminutive Brandon Jennings.
The Oklahoma City Thunder is a tough matchup for the Warriors. Last year the Thunder owned the season series, going 3-1, with all three victories ending with double-digit leads. Iguodala should be a difference-maker here as he’s the best perimeter defender on the team, by far, and should give superstar Kevin Durant a tough(er) time when the Thunder are on offense. This is the Warriors’ game of the week.
The Warriors close out their week against the pitiful Utah Jazz. The Jazz can and most likely will become a good team, just not this year. They’re going to use this season to gel and iron out the kinks in their young core. This should be an easy win for the Warriors.