There's a certain point in a team's legacy where you start to see the landscape of the entire portrait. The Golden State Warriors are entering that in-between right now. Whereas last season the team earned the end-to-end coast session, this year has added a lot more character and color to the painting. Everything and everyone was fun and games in their 67-win campaign, including opposing teams, fans, and media. Not a single bad word was uttered about a game that suffered through so much losing and now creating the highest possible point of success possible. All that is slowly changing, and the Golden State Warriors are making the most of it, for better or for worse.
Right after the Phoenix Suns blowout, several Warriors started talking about the Milwaukee Bucks and the disrespect they ostensibly during their win last week. I personally don't think the Bucks did anything wrong or disrespectful, especially being an awful team that just snapped a historical streak. On the other side of the coin, there's no issue with the Warriors taking an exception and coming out saying they wanted revenge. Both teams get to do what within limitations and none of this was over the top.
Then the Warriors came out and laid and egg. For an entire half, the Warriors repeatedly blew defensive assignments, allowing backcuts, blow bys on individual defense, and failing to right the ship with incredibly stagnant bench lineups. It wasn't pretty, and it certainly wasn't the type of performance they expected and hyped up all week. The game itself was fascinating (will go over this in leftover observations). The Warriors came back despite the incredible length and intensity of the Milwaukee Bucks by finally forcing the Bucks into the same midrange shots they'd nailed in the first half, running them off the 3PT line, and contesting much better at the rim.
But most importantly, and perhaps interestingly, the Warriors are in the midst of creating the type of identity that transcends seasons, careers, and even their own legacies. They play like the free-flowing San Antonio Spurs, trash talk like the 08 Boston Celtics, hold poses like the LeBron James Miami Heat, and enjoy the game like, well, themselves. Amidst a run that could end up as the greatest to ever happen in NBA history, the Warriors are forming the strokes that create the painting when Draymond Green roars after each three, Stephen Curry holds his arms out before the shots is even up, and Klay Thompson talks in the offseason about the Los Angeles Clippers choking in the postseason. All of this is awesome, unprecedented, and part of what this Warriors team will be remembered as when this is all said and done.
Friday night, O.J. Mayo took exception to all the talk, telling Draymond that if he wanted other teams to act with class, he should start by doing the same. Then when he went for a pat on his head, Green shoved him off and after the game said, "No man is gonna touch my head. Point blank."
And like that, Green's exceptional entertainment value off the court continues, Curry's celebratory antics becomes the stuff of legends, and the features start to roll in at a rate that would make an alcoholic blush during one dollar shot Wednesdays. Just this week, this was written in a superb look at Luke Walton and the job he's done.
The Golden State Warriors deserve all the accolades, all the words written, all the fame, and the adoration. And on their way into history, the ridges of the sculpture are forming, for better or for worse, on and off the court, and we're all in for the ride of a lifetime.
1. O.J. Mayo, "I thought defensive-wise, for three quarters, we were very strong. We were talking, communicating. Once they got a few threes, dropped in transition, got the crowd into it. We were still communicating, but it was a little hard to hear one another. That's why they're the defending world champs."
I thought the crowd tonight was superb, especially for a Friday night one. I have a piece coming up next week about the fans but they haven't been all too enthused this season, especially on Wednesday night. Tonight, they stood and cheered when the Warriors were struggling and needed a stop. They also stood the entire last half of the fourth quarter.
2. Walton talked after the game about Mo Speights' struggles, explaining them away as the lack of minutes hurt his lack of rhythm. It doesn't look like the two-big men lineups will go away. I will respectfully disagree with Walton's opinion there.
3. Draymond referenced playing better defense about 4 times in his postgame interview, repeatedly stating this team can play at a higher level but have yet to sustain it for whatever reason. I'd tend to agree with him but the trend is growing. Is it Steve Kerr's absence? The lineups? Injuries? Regression? Whatever it is, we probably won't find out if this will hurt them until the postseason.
4. The Milwaukee Bucks are interesting in that they are in incredibly long team and lack any semblance of shooting. With that, they posted up a bunch, created enough open looks on Stephen Curry, and hassled GSW on defense in the passing lanes and blocks. Walton did say postgame that the Bucks didn't try anything different schematically (that they usually have success against those same schemes) but just that the Bucks play them tough. I can't tell if this is a trend or can be duplicated but the Warriors most assuredly won't play them against the rest of the season.
5. I know Apricot usually illustrates the play of the game but I can't help but note Draymond Green's block at the rim on a rebound attempt by the Bucks and then coming down on the other end of the court and nailing the 26-foot Curry-esque 3 in transition. I think he's still screaming somewhere.