Welcome to Oracle!
The Bucks trot into Oracle after derailing the Dubs' historic 24-game run last week. The Warriors may have expressed relief when the streak ended, but it's hard to buy that sentiment. After all, aren't winning streaks and setting records a blueprint towards being the greatest? This team could prove to be in that conversation at season's end, and just like Robert Redford in "The Natural," people could see Steph on the street and say, "There goes Chef Curry, the greatest to ever play in this game."
Greg Monroe was largely responsible for inflicting the first sting of defeat. It was a memorable 4th quarter for the Bucks; teammates locked arms and swayed with glee while the legless, lungless Warriors tried to buck up and show life. What an amusing thing to suffer one loss so dramatically, as a Warrior fan. Is it real enough yet?
It's been said, that the NBA is an unfriendly league for winning streaks. It's a forgiving schedule, designed to bounce back, not maintain. The travel, the grind - It's made for surviving losing weeks, or even months. In any case, the Warriors are rested and ready after a tune-up blowout handed to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. And after going "animal style" with Drake at In-N-Out after the previous home win, Steph will still be plenty hungry for some venison once Jason Kidd's squad takes the floor in front of a hostile Bay crowd. Fortunately, the 4th quarter was also memorable to the Warrior fan. The Warrior fan is a strange beast, because he/she does not forget.
The Bucks lost to the Clippers on Wednesday and were outscored in all 4 quarters. Honestly, this shouldn't be a big game. Golden State is such a superior team and shouldn't get too worked up about roughing up an indigenous, young squad. But they will get worked up, and it will be glorious.
How they match up
PG - OJ Mayo may be the stronger body, but in no way can he keep up defensively with the motivated MVP. On Wednesday, Curry made an effort to get his teammates involved early. This time, he could have a mind to come in early and spoil Jason Kidd's reunion.
SG - As if a 27-point quarter wasn't evident enough, Klay's ankle looks ready to go. Personally, I was hoping Thompson would be the hero during last week's loss in Milwaukee. He was having an efficient game the night he went down, and he made his first shot (step-back three) in the loss to the Bucks. He shot about 6 times in the first quarter thereafter, missing all of them. Nevertheless, Klay obviously had a mind to make his impact felt off the jump, and despite being off the mark, it was a good sign to see him come in so aggressively and determined to help his exhausted teammates. He followed up that effort with an extraordinary performance, as witnessed during the previous home game. Look for a Thompson/Middleton shootout. May the hottest hand win.
SF - Brandon Rush continues to chisel away the dust and prove the front office to be more smart than sentimental. Personally, I admit that I did not expect Rush to maintain his accuracy after his big debut when he nailed 4 bombs. But he has. Rush maintains the starting lineup's toughness and defensive edge. Not only can he still shoot, but he gives hard fouls at the rim, challenges shots on help, rebounds, and still closes out like the worst of his woes are behind him. He has a tough task ahead of him, defending "The Alphabet." But Rush will be up for the challenge. This will be a great opportunity for him to show that he's still justifiable in his ability as a two way player.
PF - Jabari Parker is a jaguar. He's going to attack Draymond with everything he's got. Both players are mobile with the ball beyond the perimeter, and their dogged strength is what makes them so versatile at the power forward position. Green should win the rebounding battle here, and his stellar defense can put the stick on Parker as effectively as any player in the league could hope.
C - Greg beat the brakes off of us. Hard. I don't expect Andrew to get all cute tonight, passing the ball between his legs, (dope.) - I expect him to want to smash Monroe for essentially beating his team. Look for Bog's to bump him early down the court and smother him after the catch. Can Monroe impose his will and use it to put the Aussie in foul trouble? Ezeli gave a valiant effort in our lone loss, so let's see how Walton game plans in his endeavor to mitigate the skilled Monroe.
6th - Williams is still finding shoes that fit, and under Jason Kidd's tutelage, he's coming along slowly but surely. Forget about any height advantage Livingston might have here. At 6'6, Carter-Williams is one of the longer point guards that are trending nowadays. Shaun went 0-3 against the Suns. Let's see how he responds after going scoreless last game, despite putting up 4 assists to only one turnover.
Ian Clark and Brandon Rush
Is anyone else excited to see how good this team will be in April form - When Kerr could be back at the General's rank and masterfully utilizing all cogs? The Warriors have had the chance to show the world that Brandon can still play, and that Ian Clark has NBA game. It's exciting to imagine what Kerr can do with these two talents; how he can depend on them in the post-season. Steve's been sitting, waiting, and planning. Clark is developing. Rush is regaining. What a feast of talent at Steve's hands! By God, it's going to be good to have coach back with these two players joining the war. It's hard to express how happy fans are for Rush. It nearly ruined the season emotionally when he went down the very same year that the Warriors had finally gained respectability. It felt like watching Forrest Gump lose Jennay. But now he's back, and the team has set the stage to do what seemed impossible - give the people yet another story-book season that could top the previous.
Klay Thompson and January
In 1998-99, the Los Angeles Lakers had four players (Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Kobe Bryant, & Shaquille O'Neal) make the All-Star team. If that team can have four, then the Warriors deserve three. But let's talk about Klay Thompson for a second. The 4th year player was considered the 2nd best shooting guard at the eve of the season. He's been over the initial hump by making the honors last season, and if he starts going off, the fans should consider him for a repeat.
Klay usually starts off the season hot, and tends to cool down near the middle/end. His first couple months are usually the best, shooting-wise. Conversely, he's started off the season a little cool. Obviously, it hasn't hurt the team, but Warrior fans should bet on Thompson having a huge month this January. He's confidently poised. If he can have a strong homestead here, and then singe the nets well past the new year, well, the Warriors could have 3 players on this year's All-Star team since...ever? And,being or acting in a contrary direction; opposed or opposing why not? After all, they are more dominant than that 98-99 Laker's team. These Warriors are the bride of the league, and sit on top of the throne right now through merit, and reputation as the legitimate defending champs.
Admittedly, the All-Star game is lame. But it's not about that game where the best show up to play no D. It's about being recognized and respected as the best. Between Draymond, Curry, and Thompson, having three players (and possibly our coach) being honored that way in the same year would just be yet another pearl for fans to add to their proud collection of recollection.