The Golden State Warriors’ first half of the 2013-14 season can be described as … underwhelming. At first glance, the Warriors haven’t had a disappointing season at all. They currently have a 32-22 record.
However, given the immense amount of talent on this team, the Warriors could certainly improve and have a better record, especially given the fact that they boast one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.
Many NBA fans and analysts had high expectations for the Warriors this season, and some even believed that they were championship contenders. That might’ve been a little premature, but the Warriors, despite some underachieving, still have a great chance at making the playoffs and possibly moving up into the top four or five in the Western Conference.
If they want to secure home-court advantage in the playoffs, although it might be difficult, the Warriors need to improve in several areas in the second half of the season.
First of all, they need to play better at home. The Warriors’ record at home doesn’t look too bad. They currently have a 16-10 record at Oracle Arena. However, the Warriors boast one of the best, if not the best, home-court advantages and the best fans in the NBA.
Warriors fans are known for being raucous, loud, energetic and extremely passionate. The Warriors sometimes appear complacent when playing at home, as they assume that they will get easy wins because of their quality crowd.
The Warriors can’t make these types of assumptions and they need to compete hard every night. Of course, this is easier said than done. The Warriors need to play with more effort at home in the second half.
Speaking of making assumptions, the Warriors have also had a bad habit of playing down to their competition. Often when they play a team with a lesser record than theirs, they don’t play as dominantly as they could. On several occasions, they lose these games because they didn’t take their competition seriously.
On the flip side, they play up to their competition as well. In theory, this is a good characteristic, but it promotes an inconsistent playing style. The Warriors have been able to beat elite teams like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Los Angeles Clippers, but they have lost to teams they should’ve beaten like the Charlotte Bobcats and the Washington Wizards.
“There’s 29 games left, and I’ve said all along that this team, we’re going to be a reflection of what the players put into it,” O’Neal said. “I know it’s been a lot conversation about Coach Jackson, and to me it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard, because at the end of the day, the players have to have a certain type of will.
“It’s all will. It boils down to if you want it bad enough, you’re willing to do whatever it is.”
If the Warriors want to have a strong second half of the season, this inconsistent play needs to stop. The elite teams have off nights, but they find ways to beat teams they should beat and play well every night. The Warriors need to prove that they can play on that level.
In order to have a successful second half, the Warriors also have to find a way to limit their turnovers, which they have struggled to do all season. Turnovers are to be expected in the NBA, but the Warriors need to limit the sloppy, careless, and avoidable turnovers that lead to easy buckets for their opponents.
Those are the types of turnovers that kill momentum, slow the game down, and decrease a team’s chances of winning. Those are the types of turnovers that the Warriors need to cut down on if they want to have a strong second half.
Lastly, one of the most important factors in order for the Warriors to have a successful second half is health. The only Warriors that have played in all 53 games so far this season are Draymond Green, Marreese Speights and Klay Thompson.
When Stephen Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut all start, the Warriors have won 69.7 percent of those games. Those five players have only started together in 33 games this season, though.
Despite all these games missed by the starters due to injuries, the Warriors are still in the playoff hunt. That’s the good news.
In terms of goals for the second half of the season, Mark Jackson has said that the Warriors want to build on the lessons they’ve learned in the first half of the season, hit their peak near the end of the season, and then ride that momentum as long as they can in the playoffs.
Curry shared that same sentiment with Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We’re trying to secure our spot in the playoffs and make some noise,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “The goal is obviously to represent the Western Conference in the Finals, so that’s on the horizon for us – if we take care of business.
“I feel good about it. We’ve learned a lot. Obviously, we haven’t played to our potential so far when it comes to playing at home and winning games that we’re supposed to, but those are things that will toughen us up. We’re a hungry team that is going to come back on a mission.”
If the Warriors can bring more effort in their home games, play hard every night against any opponent, limit their careless turnovers, and stay healthy, the Warriors will have a strong second half and will ride that winning momentum into the playoffs.