The Warriors are perfectly poised to get hot at the right time. There's a saying in the NFL about playing your best at the right time in the season, "When the tryptophan wears off, the good teams unveil themselves". After Thanksgiving an NFL team knows it's identity, they've churned through the meat of their schedule and if they are a good team they've placed themselves in contention for the playoffs. So, after the Turkey nap the best teams start putting together their best football.
The NBA season has a unique signature to it as well. The best example of this can be observed in any of the perennial playoff contenders. Good teams, for the first quarter of the season don't even really play; for the next 20 games they'll start playing in the 4th quarter; the next 20 they'll play the second half; and for the final stretch, starting around now, March 1st, the good teams finally begin to put together full games. The good teams, the teams who can afford it, they pace themselves. Their intent it to poise themselves to get hot for when the playoffs start. Just as the Warriors are now.
The Warriors began their season under a cloud of uncertainty. It was all potential and no promise. Besides Curry's ankle and Bogut's foot, the Warriors were starting 2 rookies with a 3rd in heavy rotation while hoping Klay would round himself into a complete ball player to compliment his excellent shooting skills. Bogut flashed when healthy while Curry's health flashed before our eyes. Yes, Bogut was sitting, but the promise of his return gave this young team a horizon to focus upon. They had a promise in their pocket and nothing but expanse in front of them. The Warriors responded during this time with great enthusiasm and focus on both sides of the court. The sort of focus and enthusiasm more established teams reserve for March. Reason being, to play like that is draining. It can't be held for 82 games long. This team was bound to slump, and the Bogut jerk-around right before a challenging road trip offered the perfect break in focus, luckily. If it didn't happen then the slump would still be waiting in the wings.
At the 3rd quarter mark, having seen their insurance policy check bounce, this team faced a tough 5 game road schedule. All of the sudden, the slump is on. Jack looks confused, the rim is shrinking on Klay while his feet are growing too big to dribble over, Landry can't even get the ball above his waist, Festus has played himself toward the bench, and nobody has the heart to play defense anymore. What we saw in Indiana was slumping shooters facing a team with great size and physicality. What we saw in New York was Curry determined to carry this slumping team while he had the energy to do so. What we saw in Boston was the last gasp before the slump. What we saw in Philadelphia was just embarrassing - the bottom rung. The Slump.
But that's all over with. There are no more questions to be answered. There's no more feeling out a player for his potential. There aren't anymore odd sets or fancy schemes to experiment with. Bogut may come back but the team is now resigned to playing without him if need be. The Warriors finally have certainty about who they are going to be as they head into the playoffs.
Expectations for each player have solidified. Curry has done broke out. Barnes is attacking the rim. Jack isn't going to stay cold and Klay really isn't a rookie despite what he's looked like recently. Be optimistic that the focus the Warriors had early in the season will return. A playoff spot is almost guaranteed and who the Warriors face in the first round doesn't matter at all. This team should play fast and free on offense and with regained determination on defense. Marc Jackson doesn't doubt his players so they won't be doubting themselves. There is a long home stretch on the horizon where the team can rest up and simply play as they truly are - a fantastic basketball team.
Come April we'll hardly remember this slump, because it's come at the perfect time, thankfully.