Golden State Warriors (13-2) vs. Detroit Pistons (3-13)
The Palace at Auburn Hills - Detroit, MI
12:30 p.m. PST
TV: CSNBA | Radio: KNBR 680
Buddy blog: Detroit Bad Boys
Yet with Steve Kerr's Warriors currently headed in the opposite direction of Van Gundy's Detroit Pistons with the two set to face each other today at The Palace of Auburn Hills today at 12:30 p.m. PST, it's even easier to avoid any sense of buyer's remorse.
Of course, it's totally unfair to judge who got the better of this past offseason's round of coaching hires this soon -- Kerr inherited a playoff team while Van Gundy inherited a completely mismatched group of players that had little hope of postseason play even in the weaker Eastern Conference. However, while the Warriors will take an eight-game winning streak into The Palace, the Pistons are currently stuck on an almost equal and opposite trajectory having lost their seventh game a day after Thanksgiving.
We, as Warriors fans, have been where Pistons fans are currently: "utter basketball misery", as David Mayo of the MLive Media Group described it in a melancholy article about Michigan's once-proud NBA franchise. Mayo's article was written in response to the Pistons' 104-88 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. It was a loss in which Andre Drummond's 26-20 double-double was overwhelmed by the Bucks' 69-13 bench scoring advantage. Drummond called his own performance -- a first of the young 2014-15 season -- "empty", DJ Augustin said that "everybody's trying" (in direct opposition to Yoda's teachings), and their new coach was left admitting that his team simply had no answers.
For those of you with the great misfortune of enduring the Dark Ages of Golden State Warriors basketball (circa 1997-2002), that whole scenario might seem eerily familiar -- feel free to fact check me on this, but I swear you could pull those types of statements directly from Bay Area media reports of the Warriors from that utterly miserable time for the Warriors around the turn of the century. Individual milestones can easily get lost in that Swamp of Sadness, even as fans struggle to cling to any glimmer of hope in search of answers for the future.
As we look at where the Pistons are now -- and reflect on the times we, as fans, have been there, if you haven't blocked it out -- it should become significantly easier to appreciate just how far the Warriors have come after going wandering down that same miserable path for so long.
I think it's easy for Warriors fans to fall back into the well-practiced habit of harping on every little shortcoming that the team has in hopes of improvement, but at some point this season it's worth taking a step back and just enjoying this ride the team is on. The prospect of an undefeated road trip is impressive, even if the team struggled with the Charlotte Hornets and pre-Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder and really only faced one quality opponent.
We've seen a team that is resilient, versatile, and capable of mixing and matching until they find the right combination of players (or Marreesse Speights) to pull out a win. We've seen a defense that can just absolutely shut down a poor offensive team when necessary, something that is still pleasantly difficult to get used to in light of the past. Although we can nitpick during garbage time, just about every player currently in the rotation has proven that they can complement the starters somehow.
In contrast, the Pistons have all the familiar signs of a losing team that only compound their statistical flaws. Anthony French of the Detroit Free Press reports that Van Gundy is simply hoping for more energy. And a lethargic team that shoots worse than all but the tanking Philadelphia 76ers while having even worse bench scoring will probably need a miracle to outscore a team as talented and well-rounded as the Warriors.
This is exactly the type of game that elite teams should expect to win while showing the mental fortitude not to get sloppy. Overconfident? Probably, but it's refreshing to be on the winning side of that equation.