23-0 (12-0 ROAD)
12-7 (6-2 HOME)
December 8, 2015
|Bankers Life Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, IN|
4 pm PST
|CSN Bay Area | KNBR 680 AM|
|Blog Buddy: Indy Cornrows|
|Stephen Curry||G||George Hill|
|Klay Thompson||G||Monta Ellis|
|Draymond Green||F||C.J. Miles|
|Andrew Bogut||C||Ian Mahinmi|
Harrison Barnes (ankle) - Out
Myles Turner (thumb) - Out
A young man, driven by his thirst for knowledge above all else, traverses the treacherous jagged cliffside of a mountain whose name has long been forgotten. Bedraggled, chilled to his bones, but resolute, the man finally reaches a pass, and sets eyes upon the small and ancient temple that he has been seeking. He slowly pushes open the doors to find an old man, seated and content. The old man of course is the wisest of our time. Can he truly see the future?
The young man wearily collapses to his bruised knees. When did he sustain that rip, the swelling welt underneath? But he pushes those thoughts aside. He is finally here, and at long last he will know.
"Wisest of men! I beg of you, please, tell me: When will the Warriors lose a game of basketball?"
The wise old man looks up. He stares into the younger, desperate man's eyes. For how long, the young man cannot seem to determine. But at last, the wise man slowly cracks into a wry smile, and then a wide grin. He reaches into the pillows upon which he rests, and pulls out a great foam hand, yellow, fingers crossed in the immortal symbol of Westside, upon which is written, of course: "GO WARRIORS!" He slowly and deliberately gives a great and pronounced shrug, and finally speaks:
My point is, if that guy doesn't know when the Warriors will lose their first game this season, how can anybody? There's no use worrying or even wondering. Nobody's got it better than us, to paraphrase another forgotten wise man of our land. Five games into a seven-game road trip and a full week into the month of December, the Warriors have as many losses as I have purchased Christmas gifts. Amazing.
The Indiana Pacers present an interesting challenge. It's too early to call them a prodigal son, but this year's modified Pacers are emulative of the small-ball Warriors and the open perimeter-oriented offense that Golden State typifies and that so many teams are moving toward.
The grand lion's share of this stated interesting challenge, and the key to the Pacers' thus-successful brand of winning basketball, is the stunning Paul George. Leaving no doubt that his awful injury is long behind him, George is the key for the Pacers' offense and defense (ranked 7th and 5th in the league, respectively — and yes, the Pacers' defense currently ranks higher than the Warriors').
George has the second-most made three-point field goals in the league (64), behind only Stephen Curry (116, which, like, I mean, c'mon!), shooting the long-ball at 45%. His starting forward-mate C.J. Miles is no slouch thus far this year, shooting 43.5% from range and sporting a healthy 61 TS%. All told, Indiana is second in the league in 3FG%. You already know who's first.
But surprisingly (at least to my luddite brain that's been melted senseless by Splash Brother napalm assaults), the Pacers have been pretty conservative with, well, pace, and are getting less 3PAs up than I would have expected. They're just 20th in the league in three-pointers attempted, and 11th in the league in pace. The Pacers' top-five players in minutes per game include three (arguably) combo guards in George Hill, Rodney Stuckey, and our beloved Monta Ellis; and two (non-arguably) wing players in George and Miles. To me, that would imply run run run shoot run shoot run, which hasn't quite been the case. Maybe that's yet to come.
Defensively, Frank Vogel is proving again that small ball doesn't have to be a hindrance, proving that he's a terrific defensive coach, and proving that my god Roy Hibbert was entirely expendable. Ian Mahinmi has performed well as a defensive anchor, and their lack of a big-minute "power" forward (we're talking Jordan Hill and Lavoy Allen, guys) has been compensated by excellent length and tenacity on the perimeter. They're 10th in the league at defending the three, and (*gulp*) third in the league at forcing turnovers. They have enough length and quickness to give Curry trouble as much as any team in the league. Our friends at Indy Cornrows pointed out that Paul George has been matched up against Steph before, albeit against a very different Curry (and very different Warriors), and I expect we'll see him take a turn or two. Mostly we'll see a ton of perimeter trapping, as per usual, but by guys who will aggressively play the passing lanes and have a better chance to recover on Draymond Green and shooters when Curry dumps out of the double-team. Turnovers haven't undone the Warriors yet, but it's where they look the most human, and the Pacers should test them mightily.
Of course, Steph is no longer remotely human. "Trouble" has no meaning to him other than as the name of a board game that he plays with his perfect loving family, probably. I imagine him losing to Riley most of the time, though, because you can't be the best in the world at basketball and also win board games against your family. That would make you insufferable, and Steph is anything but that. No, he's awesome and awe-inspiring and quickly pushing his way into discussions of whether he can find a seat in the pantheon.
His Warriors might have already found their seat with this 22-0 start. 23-0 inches them one row closer to the front. And if we see a -1 instead of that old familiar -0 at night's end? Toothy grins and yellow foam Dubs hands will still be everywhere you look.