Oh, hey there. Yeah, hi, it's been awhile. Just been living under a rock in a remote cave, you know, taking some time off, relaxing, and OH HOLY GOD WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE WARRIORS!
No, I've been paying attention. But it's been awhile since I've written, and might need to get this off my chest for a minute. I'm just still in a bit of shock. It's like, as Warriors fans, we've been living in a cave for most of our lives, and now have emerged into the bright radiant world, a bit blinded and unsure of the new and unexplored world around us, comforted by the warmth of the light but still touched by a lingering distrust that yet dissolves away after each step forward. I'm still rubbing the sunspots out of my eyes.
The Warriors' 36th win, against a scrappy Boston Celtics team worthy of a nod of admiration, was maybe a bit more realistic that most games of late in that... well, it kinda looked like they had a chance to blow it. While talent and ability would eventually win out, hustle and hunger were the foes this evening that the Warriors nearly let overcome them.
The Celtics, a franchise so deep into a rebuilding effort that players probably tote cinder blocks as part of their training regimen, showed exactly what one wants out of a team not expected (or even desired) to win: heart, relative discipline, and seeming responsiveness to a nobly coached game plan. While their pressure defense put them in a position to steal the game at the end, their attacking the offensive boards — one of the very few weaknesses the Warriors have — kept them around for the duration.
Golden State was down a few PSIs last night, mostly exhibited statistically in their 34.8% three-point shooting performance, their second worst of 2015. Other than that, and the extra possessions Boston took or maintained from the offensive glass and in 50/50 scrambles, the Warriors didn't do all that much wrong, and yet still only won by three. Which, y'know, is sobering, considering the Warriors had won their last four games by an average of 26+ points and are +11.9 on the year, stats that are far from sober.
After the game, Steve Kerr attributed the Warriors' shabbiness to the schedule, and there's probably some truth to that. One need only glance around the league to see an abundance of flashing neon lights of humming MRI machines. The month prior to the All Star break is a grind. The Warriors, no strangers themselves to injury and employing a periodic resting of their older players as a precaution, are still perhaps in better shape to endure the slog, as starters have produced at extremely high levels while logging relatively low minutes. Generally this has shown in the team's ability to sustain physical energy while showing mental stamina in continuing to execute schemes on both ends of the floor. For the most part, we saw much of the same against the Celtics.
Stephen Curry, while going only 6-16 from the field (and 1-5 from three) nevertheless had an effective game even while he was keyed upon by Avery Bradley and the defense, taking advantage of open teammates to tally 11 assists, turning the ball over just three times (no money for you, Sonia), and apparently snagging only two steals (I think the stat keeper missed one or two). Kerr and Curry still found ways to get Steph points, moving him off the ball and in toward the bucket; he took nine free throw attempts, hitting all of them, and threw down a two-handed slam, which I don't think I've ever seen him do.
Draymond Green, looking not at all to be effected by the midseason grind judging by activity level, did not have his best offensive decision-making game, taking a few long jumpers early in the shot clock without allowing the ball to move around. His forward mate Harrison Barnes had a cool nine points in the first half, looking spry and cogent, but played a fairly ineffective stretch in the third quarter, leading to an entire fourth quarter of Andre Iguodala (who himself didn't have much of an impact, other than making sure Marcus Thornton didn't thaw out).
Klay Thompson stayed Klay Thompsoning, scoring only 31 points in 32 minutes, which just seems pedestrian after Friday's masterpiece. His help numbers were poor, though, with just one assist and two rebounds, the latter of which earned him a scolding by Garry St. Jean after the game.
The bench kinda stunk, going just 10-26 from the field as a group, and somewhat uncharacteristically coughing up the lead entirely in the 2nd quarter. David Lee tried to redeem the group with his playmaking in the mid to late second half, working as a feeder to perimeter cutters.
Andrew Bogut gets the nod for Warrior Wonder, as he was aggressive and effective on both ends. While neither Jared Sullinger (exhibiting range) nor Tyler Zeller (exhibiting agility) are idea matchups for Bogut defensively, his off-ball defense was stellar as usual, while his offense gave them a spark — couple lefty hooks, a dive cut layup, some assists out of the high post. While he often plays the fulcrum for this offense, his presence out there last night was even more fulcrum-y than usual.
Ultimately this close game should prove to be beneficial to the Warriors, in that it's a reminder that with a lackluster performance by the bench, a few extra missed three pointers, and a tad lower energy level overall, they are not in fact completely invincible. Just, like, mostly invincible.