The Golden State Warriors haven't had more than a day off between games since December 3, 2013. That's about five weeks of basketball without actual practice or real rest. I'm not going to pretend to understand how that wears physically and mentally. I've played in Asian League tournaments (3-4 games in two days) and high school tournaments (four games in a day wasn't unheard of) but we just went out there and played. No worries, nothing but the game itself coursing through my mind the entire day. There was no pregame walkthrough, numerous charity events, five-hour flights, media obligations and countless other professional responsibilities. Just going to an arena and hooping isn't as simple as lacing up and getting on the floor. The NBA process is so much more than that.
Throughout the six-game road win streak, the Warriors have seemingly run out of gas, stopping for quarters at a time to catch their breath. But they kept winning. The starters used those lulls to refill the tank, coming back in the game when it was still in their grasp and locking it up. Stephen Curry heroics, Andre Iguodala game-winners, Andrew Bogut blocks and dunks, David Lee consistency, the bench's consistent suckage, and flashes of pure brilliance all had their fingerprints on such a laborious, winding trip. Early in the season, we wondered where the team's mindset was after a summer in which they traveled to China, got hyped up by the media, and even named the next "Showtime". I'm not one to harp on locker room chemistry or psychological tendencies, but after the determination through the past month and often great play, there's no doubt the Warriors are for real. And very much not distracted. Just tired.
The Full Squad has the second best record in the NBA behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. But there's a reason why it only applies to the top seven guys on team, and not any fringe bench players. It's been that bad, even through the ten game win streak. At times, it seems the team win in spite of the atrocious stenches in the middle of games spanning the first and second quarters.
And it was no different in this loss as the standard below-average play from Toney Douglas and Kent Bazemore forced Mark Jackson, in search of history (and who can blame him?), to play Curry 45+ minutes. Wayward shots, lazy turnovers, reach-in fouls on blowbys are staples of a tired team and permeated through the play of Curry. And how good is the guy? 34 points on 25 shots, seven assists and five rebounds good. He was still able to take over during the middle portion of the fourth quarter but just didn't have enough to polish off a couple long threes he'd usually take or make to ice the game.
1. There's only one today and, again, it's thanks to Ethan Strauss of ESPN. He's talked at length about eliminating the counting of half/fullcourt shots. Today, Curry attempted two more outside of 30 feet. One at the end of the first quarter and another at the end of the game. According to nbawowy.com, Curry has attempted 10 such shots this season and missed all ten. Coming into the game, he's shooting 39.6 percent on threes (lowest of his career). Without those ten misses, he would be tallying a tidy 41 percent, not his best work but still among the best in the NBA.
Is this trivial? Yes. But that doesn't mean it's not annoying.
2. 6-1 road trip and 10-1 in their last 11 games means a 24-14 and firmly in the race for the Pacific Division. The Warriors will host the Boston Celtics at home on Friday and have four days off until their Wednesday battle with the Denver Nuggets.