Month: December 2012

How Good are the Golden State Warriors?

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As of today, the Warriors are currently 20-10 and second in the Pacific Conference behind the Los Angeles Clippers. To say that no one expected this type of record from the Warriors at this point in the season would be an extreme understatement. The Warriors started off the season 3-3, before going into a game at Oracle Arena against the Denver Nuggets. This game would be an early season glimpse into how the Warriors would fare against a playoff team. The Warriors had several key moments where they could’ve sealed a win, but, instead, this game went to double overtime. The Warriors ultimately lost the game 107-101, because of some incredible performances by Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, and Kenneth Faried. The Warriors missed some clutch free throws, gave up too many offensive rebounds, gave up too many points in the paint, and they only shot 38.2% from the field. Since the Warriors are a young team, this kind of a loss can happen. However, the Warriors had to use this game as motivation in order to grow and be more successful in these types of games. The Warriors fell to 3-4 after this loss.

After that Denver game, the Warriors recovered from their traumatic loss and went 7-3 in the next 10 games before their long 7-game road trip. The Warriors started off the road trip 4-0 after impressive victories against the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, and Charlotte Bobcats. The pivotal moment of the road trip though was when the Warriors pulled off a 97-95 victory against the Miami Heat. Klay Thompson led the Warriors in scoring with 27 points on 11-21 shooting, David Lee had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Jarrett Jack had 20 points on 9-14 shooting and had 4 assists, his last one coming on his pass to Draymond Green for the game-winning basket. The Warriors forced the Heat to commit 18 turnovers, and the Warriors shot 39.1% from the 3-point line compared to the Heat shooting only 31.8%. Given the Warriors’ improved record and desire to be considered a playoff contender, this victory over the Heat will be remembered as one of the Warriors greatest victories of the season. The Warriors finished the road trip 6-1, which marked the first time in franchise history that they won six games on a road trip, and they improved their overall record to 16-8.

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The Warriors’ win over the Jazz on Wednesday improved their road record to 11-6, which gave the Warriors one of the best road records in the NBA. As of today, the Warriors also rank fourth in the NBA for rebounds per game with 45.8, and they rank fifth in the NBA for opponent field goal percentage with 43.2%. Both these numbers are quite impressive given Golden States’ identity as a poor rebounding and awful defensive team. The Warriors are surely trying to make a statement around the league that they are changing their identity and that they can compete against any team. Jack said after their miraculous win against the Heat, “We’re one of those teams that feels it belongs among the elite, and we shouldn’t be surprised by the things we do along this nice journey.” Also, Draymond Green said after the Warriors’ win against Utah on Wednesday, “We just have the feeling that it’s us against the world. It shows in the game — the camaraderie that we bring, the toughness that we bring.”

The Warriors do have a strong team chemistry, as Green alluded to. Stephen Curry claimed that the long road trip really brought the team together and made them a tight-knit group. They also have a resiliency and a determination that is quite impressive for such a young, inexperienced team. Head Coach Mark Jackson said after the win against the Heat, “They’re the best team and for us to leave out of here [with a win], it’s a total team effort. Especially when our best players are having a tough night, there’s something about this team that refuses to quit.” This team battles and never gives up, even if they’re tired. After the last game on the 7-game road trip, a stop in Atlanta, Jackson said, “I’m proud of my guys once again, because we could have used the excuse of being tired tonight. I’m extremely happy about being part of this group. No game for us is going to be easy, but it’s important for us to take them one at a time, do what we’re supposed to do on each side of the basketball, and let the chips fall where they may.” One of the reasons why this Warriors team is so unique and different from Warriors teams in the past is because they believe in each other, they play for each other and not themselves, and this drives them to never give up, even in tough situations.

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These particular characteristics are similar to ones that the San Francisco Giants had this past season. The Giants’ great team chemistry was apparent to everyone that watched them, and their chemistry vastly improved after the Melky Cabrera suspension. Melky Cabrera was one of their best hitters on the team and his suspension came in a key part of the season. The Giants could’ve given into the added pressure, but instead, the Giants grew even closer. Angel Pagan said, “We believe in what we have here.” Another reason why the Giants’ team chemistry was so strong was because of the trade for Hunter Pence. Pence fit in immediately and although his hitting came on slowly, his passion for the game and his exuberance inspired this team immediately. Pence had that incredible pre-game speech before Game 3 in the NLDS in Cincinnati that summed up what this 2012 Giants team was really about. The theme of the speech was, “Everything you’ve got for the man beside you.” Hunter Pence said after winning the World Series, “We bought into something you don’t see very often. We bought into playing for each other and loving each other.” During the playoffs, third base coach Tim Flannery also said, “These guys come out with their slingshots and rocks and they’re going to fight you. These guys just believe.”

The Giants provided a model to all professional sports teams on how to win a championship in a classy, respectful manner. They didn’t make a “super team” by signing as many top-notch free agents as possible. They didn’t rely on just one player. They wanted to win as a team, and that’s what the Warriors are doing now. Like the Giants, the Warriors have several different players that can provide a spark each game including Curry, Jack, Lee, Thompson, and Carl Landry. The Warriors’ resiliency and determination are comparable to the Giants and are some of the main reasons why the Warriors could make the playoffs. It’s only 30 games into the regular season, but the Warriors have a lot to be proud of. If they can continue to rebound, play defense, and play unselfishly on offense, the Warriors have a great shot at making the playoffs. The Warriors also need to improve on limiting turnovers, maintaining leads, and playing more consistently during the fourth quarter though. The Warriors will have to beat out the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and possibly the Portland Trailblazers and Minnesota Timberwolves for the sixth, seventh or eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs. If the Warriors can keep up this style of play and gain more experience as a group, then there is a great chance the Warriors can make the playoffs for the first time since the We Believe season back in 2006-2007.

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