All games are created equal, I sometimes opine internally (and externally, on that rare occasion in which I think people might still want to hear my basketball thoughts). A win is a win is a win, and a loss is a loss. Yeah, I’ve posted articles on here in the past in which I beat the THIS IS/WAS A BIG GAME drum, but when it comes down to it, what matters most is the number of wins and the number of losses that are tallied up at the end of the season. After the big win against the Indiana Pacers to start this winning streak, I went on 95.7 The Game and was asked if a loss to the Celtics would diminish the win, and I kinda shrugged my shoulders and said, "No — they just need to win as many games as possible; the Pacers win is still a win if they lose to the Celtics, and the same vice versa if that’s how it played out."
The learning experience here is that I’m not very bright.
OF COURSE a win against the Dallas Mavericks, to take as a topical example, is bigger than most others, just as a loss to the Dallas Mavericks would have been all the more worse. No, I don’t think one win against a great team and one loss against a poor team should be used as proof of moxy levels or of any team’s standing in the grander basketball landscape; but who the wins come against, how those wins pass the eye test, and how they’re strung together, are probably elements of this game that I should not overlook.
We’re in the midst of an epic scoreboard-watch that’s likely to keep us on the edge of our seats for the entirety of the 17 game miniseason remaining. It was pretty clear before the season started that the Western Conference would be nigh predictable in how 1-8 would shake out, and lo, once the strength of schedules had a chance to level out, we arrived at the mess before you today. The Mavericks are part of that mess.
Speaking of mess: Jordan Crawford, have yourself a buffet! Or maybe he was the cook? Whatever, choose your own metaphor; just know that fire and consumption was involved. He and the second unit completely flipped the table, and what was looking like an inevitable seesaw match — whether of the grinder or shootout variety I wasn’t yet sure — instead just became a cruise.
I can’t believe I’m going to say these words, but Crawford’s performance kinda made Stephen Curry superfluous tonight. Steph was the only Warrior who had a negative +/- on the night, something that, well, you shouldn’t wager on happening very often. Although he salvaged his now-league-leading streak of active games with a three pointer made, he otherwise looked discombobulated, which might have been the terminology Rick Carlisle used on his gameplan whiteboard.
And somehow it didn’t matter. Can we all just agree that this Steve Blake-led second unit, with Crawford as the primary scorer, Draymond Green doing Draymond Green things, and a healthy Jermaine O’Neal staying back-turning on that clock, is Unstoppable Baby!?
Here’s another example of my dimness: I was firmly planted in the "We don’t need a backup PG so badly — just put the ball in Andre Iguodala’s hands!" camp. And while I’m not totally flipping on that position, it’s crystal-effing-clear that, in a Mark Jackson world of funky substitutions, a calm, competent, and confident point guard is an absolute necessity for that second unit just to avoid a fiery earthbound plummet. Instead, the insertion of Blake (and the relegation of Marreese Speights to the pine forest — no, I can’t imagine that’s a coincidence) has transformed that maligned bench into an asset. An asset!! That’s some water-to-wine business right there.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also spotlight Andrew Bogut’s performance tonight. We even came out of the game thread with a new phrase: BLOB CITY! That’s a Bogut Lob, for those who weren’t there. That’s the kind of butter that game threads churn out — if you don’t get in there every so often, I recommend it. Butter makes everything taste better. Bogut might prefer vegemite because he’s a gross Australian, but he knew that the Mavericks were trying to take Steph and David Lee out of the game offensively, and that left him open to go Full Blob. He also fought like hell with his own teammates to get that 10th rebound, so that’s pretty fun.
So, another big win in the books. The Mavs are now tucked back in a virtual tie with Memphis, and oh hey don’t look now but the Warriors are suddenly closer to Western Conference: Group A than Western Conference: Group B. Just a game and a half back from the once-mighty Portland Trailblazers and in smelling distance of the Pacific Division trophy, and slots three through five are all still very much in play.
And yeah, I’m not going to make any mistakes about this: tonight’s game against the trophy-holding Los Angeles Clippers is VERY VERY BIG. They aren’t above the mess. They’re smack in it. And while a win against the Clippers would make it all the more possible for the W’s to battle their way to the podium’s peak, a loss is even more devastating to those chances. It’s great to stave off Group B teams like the Mavs, but the Clips and the Blazers — who we visit later this week — hold the keys. Big week of big games, and tonight’s win was a big ol’ good way to start it off.