If you’re sleeping on the Golden State Warriors, it’s time to wake up.
This isn’t your typical Golden State team — the one trying to score like mad without caring whether the other team does the same. As fellow ESPN.com scribe Ethan Sherwood Strauss pointed out last week, the Warriors haven’t ranked better than 10th in defensive rating in more than 30 years. If you think it’s absolutely nuts that Stephen Curry could be the face of a defensive-minded team, I understand your skepticism.
But this is a new era in Golden State. For the first time in almost half a century, the Warriors are stifling opponents on that end of the floor. Just four teams so far have held opponents to fewer points per possession than the Warriors. Yes, the Golden State Warriors.
In reality, the Warriors have probably played the best ball of any team in the early going.Look, get past the 5-3 record. Context matters here. They’ve opened the season facing a brutal schedule with five of their eight games on the road. Two of their losses have come as visitors against the Los Angeles Clippers (the second night of a back-to-back) and the San Antonio Spurs (Warriors lost by two). Their third loss came against the Memphis Grizzlies, also on the second night of a back-to-back.
And through it all, the Warriors are the only team that resides on top of the NBA’s sacred soil, ranking top 5 in both points per possession and points per possession allowed. As suffocating as the Indiana Pacers’ defense has been, Indiana has scored at just a league-average rate, according to NBA.com data. And, before you fall head over heels for that 8-0 record, let’s keep in mind the Pacers have yet to play against an above-.500 team. The collective record of their opponents thus far is a ghastly 24-40, with only one game against a team with a non-losing record, the 3-3 Chicago Bulls.
Teams can only play the cards they’re dealt, so we should still applaud the Pacers for capitalizing on their cupcake schedule. But if you’re asking me who’s the best team in the NBA at this moment, I’m not picking the team with the best record; I’m siding with the beasts by the Bay. Indiana, the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State are the only teams to outscore opponents by at least 10 points per 100 possessions, but the Warriors have faced a much tougher schedule.
–Tom Haberstroh, ESPN Insider
We can blame Seattle Seahawks fans for setting the Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium roar earlier this NFL season, and then Kansas City Chiefs fans for breaking it a few weeks later.
Now the Kings and their fans are jumping into the “our arena’s louder than your arena” tug-o-war.
With the Kings playing the Detroit Pistons tonight in their only nationally televised game (other than NBA TV) on ESPNthis season, the team will have three attempts to break the 2008 record for loudest indoor arena set at the Bradley Center during a Bucks-Clippers game.
The target is 106.6 decibles, which doesn’t seem too tall of a task considering Sleep Train Arena – then called Arco Arena – hit 130 dBA in a win over the Pistons. But back then, the Kings used to help by reportedly piping in some noise through the speakers.
– Victor Contreras, Sacramento Bee
Richie Incognito is the gift that keeps on giving to the NFL. At least if the gift is misery.
Now comes word that the Miami Dolphins offensive lineman has filed a grievance against the team, which has suspended him indefinitely for detrimental conduct. The Dolphins took this step after Incognito’s interaction with fellow Miami lineman Jonathan Martin led to (A) Martin leaving the team with alleged emotional issues and (B) the rest of us learning that Incognito likes to use the “n” word, harass workmates and mouth off about “killing” people.
Given that most companies prefer not to have a person like Incognito on their payroll, his suspension seemed to make sense. But Incognito is utilizing his right under the NFL collective bargaining agreement to challenge the suspension. He wants an expedited hearing with a neutral arbitrator.
Great. I’m all for it. With one provision: Let’s make certain that the NFL Network televises every moment of the hearing, with Martin and Incognito and every other relevant person testifying. Then we’ll finally get a complete picture of how weird the Miami locker room culture was — and perhaps still is.
In truth, the Incognito move is more about money than anything else. Under CBA rules, a “detrimental conduct” suspension can only be assessed for four weeks plus one additional game check. If Incognito serves the maximum, that would cost him approximately $1.3 million. He’s only in his second week of his punishment, but he wants to push the Dolphins into declaring when the “indefinite” suspension will end — or more likely, force them to release him so he can seek work with another NFL team.
–Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News