Is it true? Are the Golden State Warriors the best team in the West? According to the standings, that title belongs to the scorching Blazers, but talent wise, I think the Warriors are a lock for that.
The season is oh-so young and the Blazers aren’t going to stay hot forever. Sure, they may have it going right now from every aspect, but their shallow bench will one day be their downfall. Their starters are putting up torrid numbers, but one can only do this for so long. Entering a stretch of good defensive teams who know how to play them, the Blazers are going to have a tough time and that may mire them in the swamps.
As of now, however, they boast the NBA’s hottest team and are knocking off teams left, right, and center. They will make a deep playoff run and perhaps be in the conference finals. Not only is shallowness a factor, but as is inexperience. None of the players, other than Mo Williams, have any playoff experience. A good veteran team like the San Antonio Spurs will use that weakness to their advantage.
The Warriors are the same way. When they find themselves in a 27-point hole, however, they don’t lose the ballgame. Simply, that will only take 9 shots if you have two of the best shooters in the NBA. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a huge comeback over the Toronto Raptors, showing how resilient and unique the Warriors really are. You can never count them out with two of NBA’s finest shooters.
With that being said, the Warriors’ record is much worse than it actually shows. It is very misleading considering the fact that Andre Iguodala, one of their clutchest and best defensive players, suffered a hamstring-related injury and is sidelined indefinitely. Also, their recent 4-game road-trip featured two losses that were by five points or less, coming down to the final minute (in OKC game, the final shot). Those are a couple wins that the Warriors would like to have under their belts.
Unfortunately for them, they don’t have those, and are now 11-8. A couple losses here and there won’t mean much when the Warriors retain Iguodala and Toney Douglas, who fell three weeks ago to injury.
The Raptors are a very talented team, and there were a couple of stand-out statistics from the other night. In the fourth quarter, where the Warriors outscored them 42-15, the Warriors controlled the rebounding 14-1. That’s right, you saw that correctly. Toronto pulled down one rebound the entire quarter. What else? Well, the Warriors were 8-for-11 on 3-point shots. With a great defensive team like the Raptors, the Warriors showed this kind of resilience and fought back.
The only difference is that a good team would have been able to contain the Dubs. When you’re deciding whether to run at Curry or Thompson, however, you’re going to have a tough time, simply because you can’t leave either. They’re both averaging over 20 points per game this season. Even against the San Antonio Spurs, you cannot count the Warriors out when Curry and Thompson both start to hit their offensive flow. The Raptors learned that the hard way.
If you really think about it, this is the same Warriors team last year, except without Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. The Dubs are still doing well and able to battle even the best teams. This just goes to show how much the players can trust each other and compete every night. If they’re undermanned, they don’t care. Jack and Landry were huge parts of the Warriors’ offensive production, but they seem to be doing just fine without.
A couple of unfortunate losses has their record at 11-8 instead of 14-5 for instance.
Iguodala is the Warriors’ lifeline defensively. But now, Thompson is stepping up to fill some of that role. When Toney Douglas and Iguodala come back to the lineup, defense will again be the Warriors strong points. Until then, the Warriors are managing because their players are all shooting at high percentages. Even Andrew Bogut is getting into the offensive mix.