I'm not a violent person. I don't feel like I need to risk a pretty simple and comfortable life in a bone to skin destruction that tempts the fate of danger, pain, and my future. That being said, my younger brother and I used to get into a few fisticuffs, kerfuffles, tussles, or whatever one may call them when we were but some wee toddlers. He wrestled in high school and is much crazier than I am not so it's not a fair fight if we threw down in the present. But back then? I could easily toy with the kid, pinning him when I wanted, pretending to take a few jabs to give him some confidence, but ultimately shutting it down when gametime came around. I was the 2015 Preseason Golden State Warriors.
They goofed around, sleepwalked through the preseason, gambled unnecessarily on defense, ran into each other on offense, and plain ole cruised through a useless exhibition slate of games. Then on Thursday night, with Luke Walton calling this a "dress rehearsal" the Warriors came out and played like big brother, gooning from the onset, culminating with Stephen Curry throwing an underhand oop pass from halfcourt to Andre Iguodala. Disrespectful.
At this point in the Warriors' trek as a dynasty, consistent contender, and champion, their play and how it is perceived shouldn't be viewed through the prism of the quality of their opponents. They're great enough to blow out any team in the entire universe. No matter the Kevin Durants, LeBron James, or Anthony Davis, the reflection of the Warriors play should always be brought back to themselves. The Los Angeles Lakers are dreadful, Byron Scott can't figure out how to run a modern offense, and there isn't a single All-Star caliber player as of now or the next couple years on the roster. But that is not and should not be the barometer or excuse as to how the Warriors played. This performance could have happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers or Houston Rockets. The Warriors' toughest opponent are the Golden State Warriors this season. That's about as good as life can get.
From a preseason Xs and Os standpoint, I didn't see much from the Warriors that constitutes a huge change from last season - and deservedly so. They did seem to play a bit faster tonight, pushing the ball up and down off of missed and made shots. The offense always seems to part a defense permanently when Stephen Curry can drain a couple threes. Tonight was one of those nights and looks to be the norm all season once again.
After a preseason filled with high expectations (as usual), glowing practice reports, a few bad games, and an injury, Harrison Barnes (Harry B) finally broke out with 23 points. I'd hesitate to call this a breakout game considering that most came on layups and open 3s. But hey, we're not asking for the world here. We know what Harry B can provide and when he does do it, he's a perfectly acceptable role level on a great team. Here comes the extension!
Speaking of extensions, Festus Ezeli hasn't exactly played up to snuff in the preseason, not looking like the crazy athletic and dominant center he was in the NBA Finals and throughout parts of the postseason. I'd be more worried about his overall growth (offense looks to remain below-average) but the defense should end up at or near Andrew Bogut's level.
Stephen Curry is very good.
I'll have another piece rounding up the Warriors' offseason, things to look forward to, and a prediction or three next week. But before that, I wanted to touch a bit on the Warriors mentality in the preseason and how it's going to affect them into the preseason. Luke Walton said after the last blowout at Oracle Arena that he hasn't had the talk with his team as to how to counter a championship hangover because they came into camp so fresh and motivate. While their preseason play hasn't looked the part, Walton hasn't been concerned with the motivational aspect of this championship team. And that's the most important thing to take away from this preseason if we're looking for a specific nugget to parlay it into a prediction.
The Warriors are still hungry, still disrespected, or at least in the mindset that they are, and are ready to come back and beat everyone up at the historic levels of last season, this time proving to everyone else what they already know themselves: that they're the best team in the world. They took another step towards that tonight. Just remember that there's no one else standing in front of them anymore.