The Golden State Warriors have blown out the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz, and Minnesota Timberwolves. And lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers. If you had sat down before the season, did the weird thingy where you got a pen and marked down "Win/Loss/Win" in the guesstimation game while scanning the schedule, that's about the most realistic ten-game start to begin the season. Memphis and San Antonio back to back? Perfectly acceptable losses. A win at home against a tired Thunder team? Let's get risky and pencil it in!
But it's the way the Warriors have played that's surprised more than the results itself. Andre Iguodala was efficient against tonight, shooting 6-8 from the field and 3-5 from distance while dishing out three dimes, grabbing six boards and four steals. Andrew Bogut grabbed 11 rebounds along with the first few strong finishes that weren't dunks at the rim. Stephen Curry somehow went 0-5 from three but balanced it out with 11 assists. Everyone else chipped in and the Warriors slogged through a sluggish second half to another blowout victory. I'll go through some of the note-worthy plays later.
In depressing news, Jermaine O'Neal -- a welcome addition and solid backup to Bogut -- appeared to injure his knee and groin on a non-contact play. He needed help getting off the court and will get an MRI to clarify the situation. I'm not a doctor but a veteran big man that's been oft-injured in the plast few seasons with a training staff that isn't the Phoenix Suns? I wouldn't count on O'Neal coming back anytime soon.
Jermaine O'Neal will have additional tests Sunday after being diagnosed with a sprained right knee and a strained right groin, per the team.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) November 17, 2013
The starting five.
The game of basketball is a team affair. That's what they tell us. Whoever "they" is. But really, these Warriors have elevated the term "team" to another level, at least to us fans who have gotten used to isolation inefficiency or lackadaisical defense. Nothing was accountable on either side of the ball because no one cared in the manner they seem to do now. On two possessions:
First play: Barnes/Iguodala/Speights/O'Neal/Draymond Green lineup. The Jazz had a breakaway but O'Neal hustled back for a block, Speights came flying back for a weakside block and Iguodala sprinted to the sideline and had the awareness to knock the loose ball to the open court for a Green dunk. The amount of hustle, awareness and overall defense despite an offensive breakdown reinforced the notion that this squad is truly an excellent two-way team.
Second play: Curry runs a double pick-and-roll with Bogut, from the left side then the right, and Curry takes it straight to the rim, and with Bogut rolling to the basket, the defender in the corner is occupied and ball-watching...Curry fakes a pass to Bogut down low and in one motion, flips it to a wide-open (at least for him) Thompson in the corner. Splash.
Watching film, or even basketball games in real time, there are moments when you yell and point as a cutter runs undeterred to the basket, only for the offensive player to miss him because he's too busy shooting, dribbling or just blissfully unaware. This doesn't happen very often for the Warriors. They make all the passes you, the guy with the pressure-less full court view, see. The only problem? They tend to overpass a bit, trying to one-up each other's looks. From passing up an okay shot to a great shot, then passing up a great shot to a greater shot, then passing up the greater shot for a meh shot. But we'll take the gobs of excellent passing with the occasional moments of overdramatization.
1. Mark Jackson played extra zone today because 1. the Jazz can't shoot 2. probably testing some new stuff 3. the Jazz can't shoot. It was relatively effective but any good passing team would shred it apart. Curry and Thompson both left their respective players to double the post and if someone like Marc Gasol or Blake Griffin is handling it, that's a wide-open three or layup. Jackson should probably table it against good teams.
2. Get ready for some Marreese Speights! Wait, where are you going? Don't leave! Things are just getting good. Hear me out. Those long twos? He's going to take a half-step back and turn them into threes. Wait, so you're telling me he's shot 37 threes in his career? / audible splashing sound in the toilet. Ok, but he's tall so rebounds! We have Barnes and Iguodala helping the bench unit anyway. Right? Oh, a -2.3 defensive rebounding rate when he's on the court? Back to the damn toilet I go. Ugh. You can let yourself out.
3. Onto some good news, Curry is shooting 61.1 percent from less than five feet and 44.4 from 5-9 feet. He shot 57 and 41 percent in his rookie season; 59 and 45.2 in his sophomore season; (skipped his injury-shortened junior season); and 53.1 and 35.5 percent last season. It appears his numbers are normalizing back towards his healthy numbers. We hope. Curry was seen icing his shoulder but played plenty after that. The Basketball Gods couldn't take Bogut or Curry away from us in the beginning of the season so they've stolen Toney Douglas and Jermaine O'Neal. I guess Warriors fans will take that trade-off.
4. Richard Jefferson played and did good things. Cool.
5. Andris Biedrins did not play. And my sources have neither confirmed nor denied if he still sports his awesome mid-summer tan. Awaiting word... Will update ASAP.
Statistical support for this piece provided by NBA.com, unless stated otherwise.