Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies this evening at 5 p.m. PST after a pair of road losses. To get myself excited for this game, I had to focus on the positives.
5 p.m. PST
FedEx Forum - Memphis, TN
TV: CSN Bay | Radio: KNBR 680
Buddy Blog: Straight Outta Vancouver
There isn't really any way to sugar coat this: the last two Golden State Warriors games have been rather unpleasant.
I had to DVR the game in Houston and couldn't even get through the whole debacle. The loss in Oklahoma City the following night could only be considered "better" relative to what happened in Houston, but was still a disappointing showing (if expected due to the fact that the Warriors had handed them a L in Oakland recently).
But here's the bright side of the 2012-13 Golden State Warriors: we can watch two poor performances like that and expect to come back with a stronger performance in the next game. Moreover, these games weren't without bright spots of their own.
Heading into tonight's game, let's focus on what's going well, shall we?
Harrison Barnes: Over the last 6 games, Barnes has a .697 true shooting percentage (h/t Sleepy Freud for that nugget). But what's really impressive is what Jim Barnett has been saying repeatedly about Barnes recently: the game is slowing down for him. What that boils down to on the court is that he's recognizing opportunities to attack the rim better and is far more decisive than he has been about capitalizing on those opportunities. The reckless drives to the basket in summer league that resulted in turnovers or missed off-balance jumpers have been replaced by high percentage buckets at the rim. It's great to see and if he can maintain this heading into the playoffs, that's a good thing.
Draymond Green: Maybe this is a stretch and I understand why others may not feel this way, but I like the toughness that Draymond Green brings to the floor. Hold your stats analysis for a moment: when is the last time the Warriors had anything resembling an enforcer? Chris Gatling? Larry "Mr. Mean" Smith? It's been a long time.
Green isn't big enough to just completely shut down the paint for opponents, but he thinks he's The One Who Knocks.
Regardless of whether he actually is that guy, the very fact that he'd even step to the door to think about knocking at all is something this team has been sorely lacking over the last few...years-turned-decades. I'll take it. Sometimes just having that dude who simply doesn't care about who's standing in front of him gets contagious. And when you put that attitude with Andrew Bogut and Carl Landry, good things happen.
Warriors are still within a game of fourth place in the Western Conference and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs: Let's shake off the last two outings and look at the big picture here: The Warriors are still right in the mix for a top four seed in the Western Conference.
I probably would've laughed at anyone who said the Warriors would be that good this season. That does make tonight's game with the Grizzlies that much bigger, of course: beating them not only helps the Dubs in the season series, but also establishes that they can beat them and do it at their place. Should they meet in the playoffs, that's confidence that will almost unquestionably help the Warriors.
This is a big game tonight and it's been a while since the Warriors have truly had a game with significance to the NBA playoff race in February, which is something I'm still acclimating to. But win or lose, this ain't the same old Warriors - we have reason to believe that this team can beat a playoff opponent on the road and as far as I'm concerned, that's a big step forward.