The last time the Golden State Warriors started a season this successfully: Seinfeld was in its second season, the Cold War was ending, average price of a gallon of gas was $1.14, Mike Tyson was starting his reign as craziest man in America and yours truly was born.
It was 1991.
At 10-6, this is the best start to a season for the Warriors in 21 years. That's how bad it's been folks...— Nate P (@NateP_SBN) December 2, 2012
A couple days ago I wrote that the Warriors would have no trouble taking care of the Indiana Pacers because they were on a back-to-back with no Danny Granger and dealing with early season struggles. But like a true politician, I was flip-flopping minutes before tipoff.
I started to realize that the Warriors were due for one of their patented stinkers (see: Sacramento game) and the Pacers had an excellent defensive team with sneaky-good offensive players like George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert. Hibbert's been struggling but if he was going to come out of his funk, of course it'd be against the Dubs, right?
I was starting to feel nauseous through the first quarter when the Warriors started slowly with Festus Ezeli dropping passes, David Lee playing timid and Stephen Curry drawing two quick fouls. The Warriors scored 20 points but somehow managed to keep the game tied going into the second quarter.
Then for the rest of the game, they exhibited the type of toughness, hustle and grit they've showed throughout the season. The flourish to end the second half with a Curry and-one, Klay three and Lee steal to Curry half-dunk was a run that had happened many times before in Warriors' games.
Except they were made by the other team.
Also, if Curry had jumped any higher to dunk that ball I think he could have rolled his ankle.
The change in roles is welcoming to see. No longer the victim, the Dubs were bullies tonight. Figuratively, of course. No one is messing with this guy.
I tabbed Jarrett Jack as the player of the game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday because of his ability to distribute and control the flow of the game. However, this extremely prestigious award could have gone to an assortment of players like Curry, Lee or Thompson on that night.
Not in Saturday night's game, however. Jack was the best player on the court all night. Every time the Pacers were battling back and keeping it close, Jack scored, scored and scored again. The lead dwindled down to five multiple times near the end of the third quarter but Jack never let it get closer than that.
I always enjoy picking one specific play out for the player of the game, but in this contest we'll go with several. In the last 2:36 of the third quarter, Coach Jackson essentially drew up the play, Iso-Jack. Jack brought the ball up and just went at D.J. Augustin. Be it the pull-up, floater or half-court three, Jack was unstoppable. And it was no coincidence that it all started by Augustin ripping the ball from Jack around the three-minute mark. Don't mess with the vet.
1) It is time to point out Mark Jackson's crunch-time lineup. He has used it down the stretch in most of the close games this year. At first glance, it feels a little gimmicky but it is becoming clear that he favors using the small-ball approach in order to push the tempo and provide more scoring chances. And it's working.These aren't Don Nelson's lineups and thank god, because they're actually getting rebounds. They've also been effective in the way that it makes it hard for opposing teams to match up. Having a small forward run with Klay through baseline screens isn't ideal.
David Lee and Carl Landry were able to play just enough defense (coupled with very poor shooting performances from key Pacers) and grab enough team rebounds to push the ball ahead on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter.
2) Another game, another rebounding edge to the Warriors. This one came as a bit of a surprise because of the height on the Indiana Pacers and what they brought energy-size. Not only do they start Hibbert and West, but they can also bring Ian Mahinmi and energizer-bunny Tyler Hansbrough off the bench. Not to mention the excellent rebounding guards they have in Paul George and George Hill. Usually we see the Dubs get bulldozed and flustered on the glass in these types of mismatches but they outrebounded the Pacers 41-36 and only allowed eight offensive boards.
It was a total team effort in that six players were able to grab four or more boards in the game. Another testament to what is quickly becoming an excellent coaching job by Mark Jackson and the rest of the staff.
3) At a certain point in the season, you start to see a team mesh together and play with chemistry. This usually takes years to happen (see Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder) but the current Golden State Warriors are starting to show signs of the perfect mixture. That's why they called back up Kent Bazemore, right?
The celebratory pose between Jarrett Jack and Draymond Green's werewolf howl after that half-court shot was unreal. Kent Bazemore dancing after every layup has to be the most captivating thing to watch off the court. Sorry, Warrior Girls. Seriously, watch this video here (thanks to @sfsportsball for getting me there and @gumbyhighlights for the video) and look for that uppercut-left-arm-bowling-to-the-moon thingy Bazemore is trying out. Even Andrew Bogut is seen in most games holding back his teammates in the let's-pretend-to-hold-each-other-back-from-running-on-the-court celebration. Although, it is probably better to have him in a body cast so he doesn't get hurt.
There's something brewing here. I'm not sure what it is but I don't think we're supposed to. Not yet.