It wasn't the prettiest of wins for the Golden State Warriors. However in accordance with opening night mantra, it's time to substitute "it's only preseason" for "a win is a win".
Ugly or not, these games count and fortunately for Steve Kerr and crew, after a 95-77 win against the Sacramento Kings, the W's are currently on a one-game solo win streak with 81 games to go.
Coming into the contest both clubs had previously faced off 374 times in the regular season. Last year the W's fed Sacramento L's all four times for the regular season sweep. David Lee sat for the night with a strained left hamstring and guard Brandon Rush was a no-show due to a stress reaction. There was a Shaun Livingston sighting late in the third that made everything right with the world, but couldn't wipe the stain of what could be considered jitters or a team still in the learning stages of dominance.
So with the remainder of the squad in tact for their opening night match-up, the Warriors took the floor with a makeshift lineup that ended up high in fouls (32), and uncharacteristically poor shooting (22 percent from deep and 72 percent from the line). However in every attempt to turn lemons into lemonade and fast forward into lemon meringue pie they gave a sweet response to the going notion that without the deep ball Golden State's defunct.
When a coach stresses ball movement as first year Warriors head man Steve Kerr has, it can often lead to over passing. The Warriors exhibited good decision making and decisive passes on drive and kick outs, skip passes and post entry passes, however Golden State's fundamentally sound play didn't always result in the buckets needed.
I won't be so cliché as to say "live by the three, die by the three", but the Warriors lived a miserable death from deep tonight. NBA coaches love to do things with "purpose" and Kerr is no exception. The W's ran the floor with purpose, passed with purpose, finished off the break with purpose and shot with purpose -- it's just unfortunate that not many of those purposeful long balls dropped in Sleep Train Arena. Although Stephen Curry finished with 24 points and Klay Thompson followed with 19, out of 27 trey's launched, only six were hit. Two for Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green.
So what did your old coach tell you to do when you're putting up more bricks than a masons convention? Take the ball to the hole, finish hard and get to the line. After going 1-10 from three in the first half (the main catalyst for a close game), the good looks didn't come until late in the third quarter when the Warriors went on a 13-5 run finishing off the break and playing short clock basketball while taking seven shots from deep compared to nine total in the first half.
Much of the shot hoisting was due to Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli's early foul trouble, with better perimeter defense and less ball penetration by the opposition the offense should look more balanced in upcoming games.
And although the Warriors only collected seven offensive rebounds compared to Sacramento's 15, on the defensive end you could tell there's a standing agenda that's based on confidence in team rebounding. The W's used their speed and leaked a man out on the break all night for easy transition buckets. It was a strategy that helped contribute to the 22 turnovers in the game, but as chemistry builds and David Lee makes his way back to the hardwood, floor-length passes from defensive rebounds will be another gun under the Warriors pillow.
The Warriors had an answer for their shortcomings, and at the end of 48 minutes, that's not necessarily all you could ask for, but it's enough for day one. It's only one of 82, and everyone knows the regular season is a marathon. The speed of which the Warriors arrive at the pinnacle of their play doesn't matter. All that matter's is if they've arrived to it by game number eighty-two. All signs currently point to it.