And the last lap (home stretch, 4th quarter, final round) of the regular season begins. Time to tighten the rotations, re-focus, fine-tune the tactics. And win games. Especially home games, like this one against the sub-.500 Hawks, who have been in a 1-12 free-fall for the last 13 games. Even Kyle Korver's games-with-a-3 streak is over. And yet.... and yet..... Atlanta has a very good chance of keeping the eighth seed in the Leastern.
For Golden State, the storyline is different. The Dubs come into the game 7-3 over their last 10, starting a mini-home stand with Phoenix and Dallas coming up. The team has gone from If Healthy to Mostly Healthy (knock on wood). David Lee has said the team goal is no more home losses - and that's not impossible for Mostly Healthy, even if highly unlikely.
So it's a good point to review the team. Some of it is obvious - Stephen Curry is a superstar. and at the beginning of the season he wasn't, although he obviously had that potential. David Lee is David Lee. Healthy Andrew Bogut is a top-5 center - at the beginning of the season, that was potential. Healthy Jermaine O'Neal can still play both ends of the court - more potential fulfilled. Draymond Green has exceeded expectations, Klay Thompson has met them (and they were high), and Harrison Barnes hasn't (they were even higher). Andre Iguodala remains underrated.
At the beginning of the season, the rest of the bench was iffy and all of the strength was in the starters. Although it's somewhat fashionable to say that picking up Jordan Crawford was a mistake, and corrected by getting Steve Blake, this is shortsighted. Both improve the bench substantially. Point guard depth was a weakness: now, the Warriors go 3-deep with starting-caliber PGs. For those who are upset about Crawford's Boston comments, it's danged hard to go from EC player of the week (just 3 months ago) and the best player on his team on the floor to a low-rotation guy. Speights is insurance and matchup material. Kent Bazemore and Toney D are gone. Kent couldn't crack the rotation here (trying too hard, or just too deep?) and yet starts for the Lakers. His seems to be the opposite story to Crawford's, as the season comes to a close. Both stories are commentary on the talent differential in the NBA.
From an iffy bench, the Warriors 6-10 now constitute a respectable unit. The flexibility of the players 1-10 gives Mark Jackson everything he needs for a championship. Bob Myers has done his job.
Sorry I haven't written much about the Hawks. But then, even their own blog doesn't have a lot to say.