There are times when the Golden State Warriors play basketball like an ordinary team in the National Basketball Association.
On Wednesday night, the Warriors authored a game just like any other of the 29 teams in the world not named the San Antonio Spurs. There were turnovers, missed open shots, questionable bench units, and the collective angst so often rippling through anxious fans.
Unlike so many other blowouts before, the Warriors didn't rip open a sieve and allow the rest to fall into place. Instead, like a snake contracting its power and slowly crushing until the head popped off, the Warriors squeezed and squeezed until the abysmal Utah Jazz offense finally fell apart.
There was no Klay Thompson explosion, no Stephen Curry MVP moment, no Harlem Globetrotters transition show, only the gradual doom felt by the opposing team.
What is becoming more curious and perhaps the most exciting part of the last week has been Curry's aggressiveness, or lack thereof, after the road trip. As the Warriors struggled with their offense without Curry or Thompson at times, the coaching staff and Green realized they were starting to put a bit too much on his shoulders.
Through 28 games so far this season as compared to the previous, the Warriors have turned the ball over just about the same amount of times. Even though they touted the second layer of instinct and feel, the Warriors' offense has given the ball back in the same amount as the sloppy first half of Steve Kerr's offensive integration.
Warriors coach Luke Walton had a great way of addressing that at the presser, and Bay Area Sports Guy actually was thinking along the same lines as me regarding the quote:
Is it crazy to say the Warriors have two of the top-five head coaches in the NBA? Luke Walton said this tonight: pic.twitter.com/WPmOZ4Juos— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) December 24, 2015
Walton brings up perhaps the most honest and transparent look into the processes of the GSW coaching staff. This isn't a short-term win-now approach that wants to see 81 wins no matter the number of minutes, schemes, or injuries it's going to take. It's a measured and thought-out approach that accepts failures as successes if the process is as sound as theory.
Why is Stephen Curry not dribbling around and firing up threes at the rate he was earlier this season? Why is Marreese Speights playing in games he has no right in when the Warriors are trying to win 33 in a row? Why are lineups without spacing thrown onto the floor time and time again when the results stay awful?
Walton again, "What's great about coaching these guys is they don't sit around and ask who is guarding who, they just compete."
To Luke Walton, and to Steve Kerr, the regular season is the time when anything is possible, for better and for worse. Taking a couple ugly minutes here, and a couple quarters there, is pertinent to the growth and expectancy of play when the time comes where players like Speights will have to play the 4 or 5 because of injuries or ineffectiveness. Maybe there will be a time where Curry is off and the rest of the team has to score without his scoring. It's those times in a seven-game series where the Warriors will hopefully taken the regular season, tinkered with the process, and created an ever-changing dynamic that's blossoming not just to the point of perfection but to the point of explosion. It's the surprise that will win a championship.
It's Andre Iguodala starting at the power forward spot. It's Andrew Bogut playing a stadium away from Tony Allen. It's monumental changes on the biggest stage that aren't actually monumental at all. Not when the team is trying anything, doing everything, and learning whatever it takes to get to the top. Considering that they are there already? It's scary how much better it will get.
1. The dynamic of the Warriors was on display after the game when the players and Walton were repeatedly asked about looking forward to the Cleveland Cavaliers game.
Walton: "Our players are great about staying present and in the moment and taking the next game ahead of them. Honestly, I haven't heard a single thing about the Cleveland game."
Draymond: "At the end of the day, it's a regular season game. We either finish that game 28-1 or 27-2. That's about it."
Bogut: "Of course it's a big game."
If this sounds like a different Draymond than the one against the Milwaukee Bucks and you think maybe they learned a lesson...well guess again.
"That was something completely different. That was something that happened four days ago, not 6 months ago."
2. The game itself was rather uneventful. Festus Ezeli looked great again pushing Derrick Favors in the paint and battling respectably. Andrew Bogut got real switchy today and even guarded Gordon Hayward for a possession. He won the battle. The Utah Jazz offense is unwatchable. The rotations were switched up a bit to where Walton sat Thompson early third and inserted him back in when the all-bench unit started the fourth. He did note that wouldn't happen if Thompson made shots to start the half so it doesn't sound too consistent.
See y'all on Christmas.