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Warriors vs. Pacers preview: Venturing away from the Golden State

The Golden State Warriors begin a six-game road trip today against the Indiana Pacers.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (43-9) vs. Indiana Pacers (22-33)

Bankers Life Fieldhouse -- Indianapolis, IN

3 p.m. PST

TV: CSNBA/HD | Radio: KNBR 680

Buddy blog: Indy Cornrows

I got into this whole blogging thing because writing tends to be an outlet that helps me take my mind off of things and I'm a somewhat obsessive basketball fan who can spend hours tossing ideas around in my head -- crudely stated, it's the mind dumping process that I enjoy.

Yet most of my time spent on Golden State of Mind is on really tedious administrative tasks: organizing the publishing schedule, tightening up all the little bells and whistles that authors add to their articles, scheduling articles to publish, reading FanPosts and tweeting them, etc.,etc. Tiny things that (hopefully) help keep the community flowing so you all have somewhere to jointly discuss the Warriors (and keep me entertained with your commentary as well). There are some days on the site where I've read every article three times and it can be such a blur that I feel like I read everything and nothing at once.

None of this is to complain - I refuse to let the Warriors become a source of stress. But all of that tedium means that I'm usually not even left with the time (or mental space) in my day to actually write -- and who needs me to write when we have the staff of folks we have around now? -- unless I need to fill in a hole in our schedule at the last minute. And even when those opportunities do arise, they can often feel like just another task instead of a chance to do the thing I enjoy doing to begin with.

Anyway, whether the Warriors are cruising toward the lottery or a playoff run, this is normally the time of the NBA season where those holes pop up more often for one reason or another. 82 games is a long season -- sometimes just finding the time, energy, or enthusiasm to keep writing about the Warriors while maintaining a day job is difficult (this is why I have the utmost respect for the beat writers who have to be on top of their game every day).

Today's Golden State Warriors' game against the Indiana Pacers was one such hole (partially my fault for not assigning it earlier in the week) and it feels like the quintessential "Hole Game".

- - -

We have every reason to continue to worry about "trap games", the let downs against inferior opponents that the Warriors have absolutely no business losing to. And despite the Warriors' dominant record, a commanding eight-game lead in the Pacific Division and a fat point differential this season, they're only ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies -- a team that has come to frighten me with the way they just continually seem to manhandle the Warriors -- by 4.5 games atop the Western Conference. These games still matter, despite the seeming inevitability of a playoff run this season, and any trap the Warriors fall into could end up being costly down the road.

But this Warriors team has been so good this season that it's hard to get too worried about an Eastern Conference opponent with a sub-.500 record -- despite some hiccups here and there, the Warriors have largely taken care of the teams they're supposed to beat, as suggested by their nine-loss record for the season. And, perhaps ironically, the fact that the Pacers are on a bit of a roll makes them hard to overlook.

With their normally suspect shooting efficiency currently at a league-high, the Pacers are suddenly a pretty well-rounded team: with an improved offense to go along with an 11th-ranked defense on the season -- including being ranked eighth in the league in opponent effective field goal percentage (48.6%) -- the Pacers could turn this into a grind-it-out defensive road battle that would prevent the Warriors from getting into a rhythm and emerging victorious.

Then I looked at who the Pacers had beaten during that 10-game stretch with the help of Basketball-Reference:

G

Date

Tm

Opp

Result

PF

PA

W

L

Streak

46

01/25/15

@

Orlando Magic

W

106

99

16

30

W 1

47

01/27/15

Toronto Raptors

L

91

104

16

31

L 1

48

01/29/15

New York Knicks

W

103

82

17

31

W 1

49

01/31/15

Sacramento Kings

L

94

99

17

32

L 1

50

02/04/15

Detroit Pistons

W

114

109

18

32

W 1

51

02/06/15

Cleveland Cavaliers

W

103

99

19

32

W 2

52

02/08/15

@

Charlotte Hornets

W

103

102

20

32

W 3

53

02/09/15

San Antonio Spurs

L

93

95

20

33

L 1

54

02/11/15

@

New Orleans Pelicans

W

106

93

21

33

W 1

55

02/20/15

@

Philadelphia 76ers

W

106

95

22

33

W 2

Click here for the Pacers' full 2014-15 schedule (via Basketball-Reference).

That's a nice win against the Cleveland Cavaliers there, but the rest? That would be a win against the New Orleans Pelicans team without Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson and a bunch of other wins against sub-.500 Eastern Conference teams.

As Bram Kincheloe sort of mentioned in passing earlier this morning, when the Warriors last played the Pacers at Oracle a couple of weeks before the aforementioned 10-game stretch the Dubs used an impressive third quarter to pull away and eventually win by 15. The Pacers are marginally better at home than overall, but this is a game the Warriors should take again out without much trouble once they find their road legs.

- - -

Today's game is the beginning of a road trip that looks brutal on paper: six games in eight days against a sampling of teams from all levels of the Eastern Conference standings. And somehow it doesn't scare me.

I fully expect the Warriors to win the majority of those games and will excuse a loss or two during the stretch of four games in five nights (?!?!?) that they play next weekend. If done right, there shouldn't be a whole lot of drama about that despite the pomp and circumstance of a Splash Brothers vs. John Wall-Bradley Beal matchup on Tuesday, a meeting with LeBron, Kevin Love, and the Cavs on Thursday, and whatever the Toronto Raptors bring on Friday.

This game should just be a tune up to get their road routine underway and keep on moving.

Nevertheless, all of this confidence in the Warriors winning is still strange to me. The strangest part of it all has been games like this one against the Pacers: I expect the Warriors to win, they'll probably win by a comfortable margin with some routinely extraordinary moments from Stephen Curry sprinkled in, and get an opportunity to rest the starters in the fourth quarter. And with winning becoming a given, it's almost as though the goal is rest so they can trudge on toward the playoffs.

This Warriors' season has become a graduate seminar in NBA basketball -- they're playing on a level above anything I've ever experienced as a fan and, as fun as it is, there are games like today's that are almost forgettable before they even happen. Like, literally "pre-forgetting" -- I'm writing this preview because I forgot to assign it and the person who took the initiative to step up ended up having a conflict. Thankfully players don't have the luxury of trying to forget their way into an open Sunday afternoon and have ways of finding joy in a season that can feel monotonous at times, even if a team has visions of ending up with a title.

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