Wow. Where do you even start with a game like this? A huge win. Let me get some things off my chest. There are a few Warriors that I feel a need to simultaneously praise and apologize to:
- David Lee. I have been a huge detractor of yours for a few years now. I've probably said as much bad about your game as anyone. I've devised countless trades designed solely to dump your "burdensome contract". David Lee, I apologize. I don't know if you can keep this up for the next 3 seasons, but right now, you are worth your salary. More than that, you are ---> <----- close to earning my vote for the All-Star game. You've been that good. I don't know what got into you, but whatever it is, keep doing your thing.
- Jarret Jack. I didn't believe in you. I thought you put up "empty" stats. I thought your "toughness" was overrated. I thought you would be exposed by getting significant minutes in important game-on-the-line situations. Jarret Jack, I apologize. You are a better point guard than I gave you credit for. You are needed on this team. Keep doing your thing.
- Mark Jackson. I though we should have hired Dwane Casey. I was wrong. You have been the perfect coach for this team. I can see now that your toughness and effort has rubbed off on this team. You were not the most talented player, but you made the most of your talent. This team is doing the same thing. I don't know how the transformation happened this quick. Maybe it was that visit you had with Jim Harbaugh last season. I don't know. Regardless, Mark Jackson, I apologize. Keep doing your thing.
Ok, with that piece of business out of the way, let's get back to the game. What a friggin game that was. Close from the beginning, not just in terms of the score, but in terms of rebounding (40-38 GSW), assists (20-18 GSW), fouls (13-14 MIA), 3-pt attempts (23-22 GSW), and free throw attempts (15-14 MIA).
Miami basically decided to take Curry out of the game, and they pretty much succeeded in doing just that, limiting Curry to 9 points on 10 shots, ending his whatever games in a row streak of 20+ points. But in a way, that's what makes this game even more meaningful and makes me more hopeful about the team going forward. What we learned tonight is that you absolutely have to do more to beat us than take out Curry. You have to worry about Lee. You have to worry about Klay. You have to worry about...Jarret Jack? Carl Landry? Harrison Barnes?
And oh yes. You have to worry about Draymond Green. That dude is a straight up basketball player. He out-Shane Battiered Shane Battier. Harrison Barnes may have a higher ceiling (however you define that), but Draymond Green is the real deal right now. He's earning these minutes. He's earned Mark Jackson's trust. That much is obvious. It's a guy like Draymond Green that makes watching basketball such a joy. And like a Ekpe Udoh before him, Draymond makes the case for looking past the box score (whether it's with your eyes or more advanced stats). In many ways, Draymond Green the player is a microcosm of the Golden State Warriors basketball team this year. It's a balance of talent and just sheer will and determination to win games. It's all about winning.
Frankly, it's shocking. But in an awesomely fantastic eye-opening child-like optimistic sort of way. I remember last year when Harbaugh took over and the Niners started winning games. At first you kind of shrugged it off, and figured, eh, this can't last. But then the wins kept coming..and coming. And soon, you couldn't deny what was right there in front of you. The Niners had become a winning team. I feel that same sort of cautious-optimism-turning-into-real-confidence starting to build up in my chest. Like...you know...this team might just actually be a good team.
No need to apologize. No need to second guess. Hell, no need to even talk about "What if Bogut comes back" scenarios. If Bogut comes back, he comes back. But this team may just be good. Period. Right now. Good enough to earn a playoff spot? Yeah, I'm ready to go there. 22 games into the season, with a 15-7 record, winners of 5 in a row on the road...Earning a playoff spot seems perfectly reasonable right now. Perfectly reasonable.
How huge is that? One game at a time and all that.
Ok, time to hand out the Warriors Wonder.
Warriors Wonder - Mark Jackson
I'm not talking about matchups. Whatever strings he's pulling, it's working. That last play of the game could have just gone into Lee for an iso. Or he could have given the ball to Curry at the top of the key to make something happen. Instead, he had Curry and Klay coming off curls as primary options, Lee and Green as secondary options, and gave Jack the ball at the top to make the play. Yes, Jack and Green made that play work. It was spectacular. But last year's Mark Jackson would have given the ball to Monta Ellis and settled for an inefficient isolation jumper. This year's Mark Jackson trusts his players to make the right plays. The fact that Jackson eschewed "hero ball" and ran a play to get the best shot, that was just huge. As I said earlier, I have lot more confidence in Coach Jackson.
And hey, it doesn't hurt that Greg Anthony thinks he's Coach of the Year right now.