Before they clashed with the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors were lacking respect from the media. However, after shooting 50 percent overall and 52.2 percent from downtown while holding the 25-8 Clippers to 36.3 percent shooting in a 115-94 win, it’s safe to say that the Bay Area and the nation are buzzing.
The Warriors, known for their offense, put on a show on both sides of the ball. The Warriors trounced the Clippers by doing a great job out-hustling the Clippers and getting good, open looks with crisp passing, something you always love to see from your team. Add in a great defensive effort, 15 more rebounds, five more assists (they had a remarkable 29) and 21 more points, and you have a good game.
Some may argue that the Clippers were just tired after losing by 14 to the Nuggets the previous day on the road and that’s definitely a reasonable theory. But watching Golden State take advantage and building an early 26-8 lead was incredibly impressive and it’s hard to lose by 21 only because you are tired. The Warriors simply outplayed the Clippers and executed their game plan on all levels.
Golden State is a very complete team, with Jarrett Jack and Stephen Curry as options to run the point, Curry or Klay Thompson capable of playing the two, Thompson or Barnes at the three, David Lee at the four, and soon Andrew Bogut at the five (with Lee capable of playing there, too). They can do everything, from passing to defending to rebounding to scoring. That’s why they are finding so much success, and that’s why there is a 34 percent increase in their wins from this year to last year.
Even without Bogut, the Warriors are finding success. And that’s what they are all about: finding success when no one expects them to. Just like the last Warriors team to make the playoffs.
In the spring of 2007, the Warriors took their fans on a magical playoff ride, stunning the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in six games despite being seeded eighth. They had Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson, and those guys took the team places no one expected them to go, even if the team finished with a 5-6 playoff record.
But that team also had major flaws that could be easily exposed and that held them out of the elite group of teams. Coach Don Nelson did a great job getting his guys to light up the scoreboard, but they were last in opponent points, allowing a horrid 106.7 PPG. They were also outrebounded by an average of 5.7 a night and opponents averaged 1.2 more assists. Unlike this year’s team, those Warriors weren’t complete. They were far from it.
This year’s Golden State team is tied for second in the league with 46.1 rebounds per game and sixth with 22.8 assists. They are averaging 101.8 PPG, seventh in the league, and while they are 3.7 PPG away from the 2007 team, there is a much more important statistic that defines the team. Opponents are shooting 42.7 percent against them, giving the Warriors the second-lowest opponent field-goal percentage.
Just by looking at those statistics, you can tell that the Warriors have size (David Lee, soon Bogut), passers (Jack, Curry), scorers (Curry, Lee, Thompson) and defenders (Barnes, Curry, etc). They are a complete team and nothing will hold them back. They are 22-10, while the 2006-07 team finished 40-42. All Golden State has to do to top that mark is go 19-31, which is more than doable.
The size the Warriors have down low helps, because the 2007 team relied too much on the 3-ball, which won’t net any team a championship. If they happened to be cold on a certain day, they didn’t have Lee or Bogut down low to bail them out. They needed Richardson and Jackson to make their 3s and Davis to penetrate and get them good looks, while this team can let Jack dissect the defense, give the ball to Lee, and give Golden State a good chance at grinding out a win.
This team hasn’t done anything in the playoffs yet, but the way they’re rolling, they should be able to snatch one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference. Thompson and Curry haven’t done anything yet, and they aren’t going to slow down. Lee can shoot, but it doesn’t matter if he gets cold. He will still be able to post up and get layups.
If there was a way to get the two teams to square off with both teams being exactly the same age-wise and talent-wise as they were in 2007 or as they are now, I have no doubt that this team would win. The Warriors are a much better rebounding team that can take anyone down low and they would own the paint. If that somehow doesn’t work out, both teams would still be about even, since Curry, Thompson and Jack are about as good as Richardson, Davis and Jackson were then.
Warriors fans should be very optimistic about what is coming up. They are 15-4 in their last 19 games, and they can rely on multiple players to win games. They are the definition of a team–there’s no Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, but there is lots of talent. They are a team with five capable players and a great, old-school coach with one goal: to bring a championship to Golden State.
And while the 2007 team fell way short of doing that, this team is capable of bringing the ultimate prize back to the Bay Area for the first time since 1975.
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