Saturday, March 12, 2016

There's That Way, and There's This Way

After some games that were shaky thrilling maybe more than they should have been, the Golden State Warriors got back on track, showing how they can beat you that way, and they can beat you this way.

That way was  vs. the Utah Jazz, a game in which the Warriors scored 115 but Step Curry had all of 18 points.  Curry however led the team in assists.

This way was more familiar, even classic: Klay Thompson and Curry combined for 71 of the Warriors' 128 points against Portland, Thompson with 37, Curry with 34.  But as a team, a season low 8 turnovers.  And a stifling defense against the team that beat them at their last meeting by more than 30 points.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

45 and The 300

Monday night the Golden State Warriors broke the NBA record for consecutive wins at home with their 45th, and Steph Curry became the first player in NBA history to hit 300 three pointers in a season.  He scored 41, including seven 3s.

Whether it's a temporary lull or a return to reality, the Warriors aren't putting teams away early as they used to, but they still have the best record ever at this point in the season at 56-6.

Even after the Lakers' surprising victory over the Warriors Sunday, the L.A. Times did this story by Dylan Hernandez on why the Warriors are a great team.   He quotes Laker great James Worthy comparing the Warriors with the Magic Johnson Showtime Lakers (and Worthy was the speedster scorer on that team who I thought never got the credit he deserved.)  He recalled that the style of that team was brand new and basketball purists criticized them.  It took awhile--and winning championships--before their style of play was accepted.

You know, I'm just old enough to remember that.  Though I started watching the NBA with the Larry Bird Celtics, the Lakers soon captured my imagination, with Magic, Kareem and Worthy.  And I do remember that "Showtime" was at first a slur before it became a brand.  Following that Lakers team was frowned upon.  (Furtively following them was encouraged by the fact that the networks broadcast those playoff games on tape delay after the late news.)

The Warriors, Worthy points out, are playing in a new way now, and getting some heat from stars of previous generations.  The way to prevail now as then is to win championships.  Meanwhile, they are incredible to watch.  And for the same reason as the other great teams and players--their grace, doing what seems impossible.

Having made the playoffs, the Warriors quest now is the #1 seed in the West.  Their only serious competition is San Antonio, a team that in any other year would be making headlines for their season.  Their loss on Monday was only their tenth.

And the two remaining dangerous patches in the Warriors' schedule both involve the Spurs.  On March 18 and 19 they play back-to-back road games at Dallas and San Antonio.  Then they meet the Spurs in San Antonio again in the second game of a road back to back on April 10, this time with trip to Memphis on April 9.  This is after playing the Spurs at home on April 7.  (The Warriors are done playing the Thunder this regular season, having won all three of those games.)

And of course, these games are likely to figure in whether Golden State breaks the wins in a season record, currently held by the 1996 Chicago Bulls, at 72.  I remember that quest, too, with the Bulls looking weary as the record approached. It may be the hardest of all records to break.