As we head out of the All-Star break and into the second half of the season (although it's actually much less with only 30 games left) I just wanted to give a little outlook on what to expect. The Warriors currently hold the 6-seed; 2 spots behind Denver and 3.5 behind Memphis. Both of those spots are still very much in reach, although a 3-6 matchup with the Clippers might actually be our best chance at advancing to the second round. Denver is still thriving and has 16 of it's last 28 games at home. Memphis, is still adjusting, but have showed signs of promise entering the break. They only have 12 of their last 31 at home. The Warriors have the good fortune of and 18-12 home vs. road games left throughout which could and should be crucial as they continue to make their push.
We've all seen, noticed, and (I assume) spoke out on the team's struggles the last 10 days or so prior to the break which included massacres on the road to Houston, OKC, Memphis, and even a very subpar Dallas team. These miscues, not to make excuses, but I'd attribute to more blips on the schedule and possibly even the struggle to a) fit Bogut in then b) go back to playing/adjusting without Bogut. Also, I hate to say it, most importantly may have been the absence of Jarrett Jack those games on the road. Fans either welcomed or criticized the addition of Jack, but there is no question at this point he is one of the leaders of this squad on the floor as well as off. I know everyone likes to peg it a battle between J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford for 6MOY, but those critics, fans, etc. are highly overlooking the value of Jarrett Jack and even Carl Landry and Matt Barnes. Also, as we all expected, it was officially announced earlier today that Bogut was cleared for b2b games and was off a minute limit. What that means is that for the first time all season we get the team on the floor we all envisioned.
The Bogut addition really goes without saying and I'd hate to waste your time telling you how much he means on both ends of the floor. The thing that does deserve mention is the space that Bogut provides on the floor for shooters such as Steph and Klay and also for Harrison Barnes to create. That is the thing I am most interested in seeing. I think it is time to find out if Barnes will be unleashed either by M. Jackson or by his own will with simply more room to do so. I've mentioned a few times on Twitter just watching and imagining the possibility, but I would like to see a set in which Barnes is the primary ball handler running the PnR with Lee. In this scenario Bogut would be in the paint with a lone defender and Klay and Steph could be freed on the wings if either defender were to break over to help. It's not a fullproof set, but it's something I think could work if the attempt was there.
As mentioned before about Jack's imprint on the leadership role, Bogut will also bring a vocal leadership to the team which is always pretty visible. The thing I would like to see these upcoming 30 games is Steph and David Lee our "star's" and All-Star's/"snubs" begin to take on a more vocal role on the floor and off. Accountability over that last week for some reason was primarily brought up and taken on by only Andrew Bogut and rookie, 2nd round pick Draymond Green. Great to see it from anyone, but that role/accountability should fall to Steph's most importantly as well as David Lee. So that's something I will be looking for and hope to see moving forward.
Now getting into actual predictions and the schedule. I have the Warriors going 20-10 the rest of the way which would give them a 50-32 record. I went back and for on this for a while trying not to let my Warriors optimism cloud my judgement too much. They play NY twice, they could easily split the series. Two games against Houston and the Lakers; you'd like to think they have all out revenge games, but easier said/imagined than actually done. Same goes for the 2 games against Sacramento, but again easier said than done. Without going into each games prediction, the best I had them finishing was 23-7, the worst 19-11, but the 18 home games should really be a big help moving forward.
The most important games on the schedule or at least the way I see it are (from first to last on the schedule not in order of importance:
1. 2/22 vs. San Antonio on ESPN. They played SA close for the most part the first time around this time they'll have a healthy Bogut, plus the home crowd, plus the added benefit of playing on national TV against a potential playoff opponent.
2. 3/8 vs Houston on ESPN. Like I mentioned previously the Warriors had two bad losses to Houston in the past few weeks, several players mentioned payback each time lets see if home on national TV will provide the spark.
3. 3/17 @ Houston. No national TV to provide either team the healthy spark, but if GS want to prove they are the better team/seed a series split and more importantly the win in their arena is necessary.
4. 4/11 vs. OKC on TNT. I'd like to be pessimistic here and say splitting the series would even be great against the Thunder, but then I looked deeper. A) it's at Oracle B) it's on nation television which is bigger stakes for the Warriors than it is for the Thunder who seem to get a nationally televised game every week. It may be a revenge game for Russ who was awful the last matchup, but I'll be hopeful here.
5. 3/25 vs. LAL on NBATV. I really wanted to put both matchups vs. the Lakers on here, but the home game on NBATV seemed more important because it'd be nice if not to get both back to at least get one.
So that's the culmination of my preview. Looking forward to having a healthy Bogut back tonight against a big team in Utah.
As far as the trade deadline goes, yeah, it'd be nice to see them get out the luxury tax by dealing either Tyler or Jenkins, but don't see that. I won't even mentioning moving Biedrins or Jefferson because not happening, so that pretty much sums the Warriors version of a deadline recap up. I've seen people mention the idea of trading Klay or Landry or Jack and I'll just leave it at that because all 3 are insane to bring up. Keep this core together and save $ for the potential 2014 class if they want to make a big splash.
Here's to the 2ndH!