1-Game Overreaction: Big Buck Hunters


Mar 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) and center Andrew Bogut (12) defend Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) on a shot during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For much of their history, the Golden State Warriors had effectively finished their season long before March.

Although today’s fans have successfully blocked those painful years out of their memories, you don’t have to go too far back in the NBA history books to see that this time of year was typically when the team started selling season tickets for the following year. Supporters were so eager to forget about this doldrum phase that as soon as a competitive team took the court, they buried their pain deep inside their basketball loving souls to the extent that they expected too much from the first semi-successful team that came along.

When you see one of these people lambasting the team’s weaknesses on Twitter and elsewhere as if these are the same old Warriors, in this context you start to view their irrationality as a defensive mechanism meant to prevent them from being emotionally crushed should those losing years somehow become commonplace once again.

So when the team struggles to break away from a 13-56 Milwaukee Bucks team that’s only won five times on the road all year, Oracle Arena becomes eerily quiet as fans try to prevent their inner turmoil from spilling out, because in the deep recesses of their minds, they know that this is exactly the type of game that the franchise would’ve lost in years past.

This is why the Dubs’ 115-110 win over the Bucks Thursday night was meaningful. It must be considered in the context of everything the Warriors have ever done in their 68-year history, specifically the last 20 years, which is how far you have to go back to find a Golden State team that was this far over .500 (18 games).

The team has now won eight of their last 10 games, they are operating at full health, and the offensive woes that plagued them for a healthy portion of the season are subsiding now that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee are hitting their stride (specifically Thompson).

The Warriors still have a chance at jumping up in the standings, so you look at a game like last night’s against Milwaukee, and it’s an obvious must-win scenario. Not only because they need every win they can if they’re going to overtake Portland at the five seed, or maybe even Houston at the four-spot. It’s because they can’t lose these games anymore; not to teams like the Bucks. It undermines all of the progress that’s been made under the new regime, and in order to be taken seriously as a championship team, everyone in the organization knows that they have to take care of business against teams they’re supposed to beat.

Thankfully that’s what happened last night, even though Milwaukee hung around longer than anyone might have expected. Curry went for 31 points and 11 assists, Thompson poured in 29, and Lee was automatic throughout the night and finished with 22 to go along with 12 rebounds. With that offensive hydra doing its job and the defense holding fast through Andrew Bogut and a well-rested and hopefully healthy Andre Iguodala, it would appear Golden State is hitting an upward trajectory at the perfect time, and if they continue on this course they’ll be a tough task for whoever they take on in the first round of the playoffs.

The Warriors of old might’ve folded under pressure last night, but not this group, and for that we’ll label the game against the Milwaukee Bucks, owners of the worst record in the NBA, as the Game of the Year thus far in the 2013-14 campaign.

Done laughing/rage-spasming yet? Oh, you were finished? Well, allow me to retort: I don’t mean that it’s literally the best game of the season. I’m just trying to make the point that every game from here on out is the biggest game of the year for this team. And they know it.

And whether they’re conscious of it or not, so do the fans.