During the road trip, we learned that the Golden State Warriors do indeed love the CoCo. Beyond that? There was a nail-biting win against the Oklahoma City Thunder sans Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Then a close game against the Dwyane Wade-less Miami Heat that was put away in the final quarter. A pure blowout from start to finish against another bottom-dweller in the Orlando Magic. A randomly tense affair against the actual worst team in the league outside of the Philadelphia Sixers (that is, the Charlotte Hornets). Then a comfortable victory yesterday over the Detroit Pistons capped the road trip at 5-0, and nine in a row overall.
Full credit goes to Steve Kerr getting his team ready during a stretch of five games in nine days. Kerr, Alvin Gentry, and the rest of the coaching staff has unleashed a Marreese Speights who, with each passing day, feels more and more like sustainable production functioning as more reality than mirage. The Warriors have consistently blown teams out, with no regard to playing up or down to competition -- a mark of a potentially great team.
Regardless of strength of schedule, and this certainly isn't college football where it matters in principle or at all, the Warriors are winning. It just doesn't really tell us exactly how good they are (or are becoming) when the opponents are weak. It's a little nitpicky, but besides a road win at Portland and home loss to San Antonio, the Warriors really haven't played anyone of caliber yet. They get a murderer's row of Houston (Dwight Howard should be healthy by then), Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis, and Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant should be back) in mid-December. I thought the Warriors would finish the season in the Western Conference Finals and nothing that we've seen should change that. It's just that that's the problem -- we haven't had much varied information to gauge this team against.
The win streak didn't phase Stephen Curry as he bluntly came out and said he expected the team to reach 60+ wins. Nine straight wins, five on the road, and the Warriors aren't so much worried about what they've accomplished rather than what they're hoping to strive for in the next couple months. So rather than playing guessing games with the media about a circled number in the locker room (ostensibly a prediction for wins in a season) and the curious self-affirmation culture created last season, the ho-hum nature of the win streak has been more impressive than the games themselves.
Andrew Bogut is still dissecting defenses from the top of the key. Draymond Green is counting the greens with each successive three he bangs in. Klay Thompson is slowly becoming a reliable every-game scorer. The bench covers enough defensively to make up for its offensive woes, at least for now. All this is becoming somewhat mundane as the repeated dominance in aesthetic fashion is wont to do. If the Warriors wanted to emulate the San Antonio Spurs in terms of passing, shooting, and success, they've at least elicited some of the feelings the Spurs have from fans around the world.
The Eastern Conference can also do that to quality of basketball, or whatever sport they're playing nowadays. It's hard to gauge the quality of the Warriors at this point given the lack of competition. The offense still struggles without Curry on the floor, akin to last season. There simply aren't enough shooters to fully unleash a passing and cutting attack that annihilates defenses from players one through 10. But we're only 16 games in. The Warriors aren't peaking even if it seems like they're flawless at this point. The coach isn't celebrating milestones as if each one is a referendum on his legacy. So the unbeaten road trip is awesome and Leandro Barbosa's talents as an ad-lib shrieker are now well-known. It's just that the Warriors have so much more to prove, and they seem to know it.