Every now and then - perhaps because I'm still trying to determine if this is real life or just fantasy - I like to have a reminder of just how good this Golden State Warriors team is.
Last night's rout of the Dallas Mavericks at Oracle Arena was one such performance.
Warriors take an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter. Dubs are 40-2 this season when leading after three frames— GSWStats (@gswstats) March 7, 2015
I'm not sure there was any particular turning point or individual performance that defined the win for me - once you accept Steph Curry as an alien with a mastery of Physics beyond any of our understanding, nothing is really surprising - but it was just one of those steadily building blowouts of a playoff team in a year full of dominant victories that makes for a solid example of what this team is capable of even in somewhat unspectacular moments.
The final score probably doesn't make this look like much of a dominant win, but it doesn't come close to reflecting the feeling of watching this one: if you take out the first 4.5 minutes (during which the Warriors were down 14-8) and the last five minutes of the game (deep garbage time), the Warriors essentially routed the Mavs 92-59, more than double the final margin. After the rough start, the Warriors grabbed a hold of this one and never really let go.
Would it be fair to say the Mavs had an off night, playing in the second game of a back-to-back? Definitely - we've seen the same from the Warriors just recently. Might the absence of Chandler Parsons have played a role in the Mavs' poor shooting night? Possibly. But the Warriors looked like a roster that was at least a tier above this Mavs team last night, not making any sort of novel statement but clarifying their position as title contender for anyone who started to allow doubt creep in during their most recent road trip.
Yet the game wasn't without its warts.
- What has bothered me about this team the last couple of years hasn't necessarily been the fact of the Warriors turnovers but the way they happen. And, to use coach Steve Kerr's language (lest you think I'm being unduly harsh), so many of the team's 22 turnovers last night were just "silly passes, risky plays." There are some who have (oddly) tried to dismiss the problem in various ways, but those four words pretty much sum it up: this is a team that is good enough to have the confidence to take risks and they sometimes do so at the expense of a simple play. It's not necessarily a quantifiable problem as much as a hazardous mentality that comes as a byproduct of the team's success on occasion; that we know they're capable of doing better makes the careless turnovers all the more frustrating.
- Shaun Livingston had a team-high six of those turnovers, but since three came in the final 12:02 of the game when the outcome was hardly in doubt I'd like to forgive him in light of his first double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) as a Warrior. Livingston is finally starting to find his rhythm with this team after a largely disappointing season, whether it be due to recovering from injury or simply a matter of his inability to shoot from distance. Despite a few forced shots and the turnovers, Livingston's ability to score in the post against smaller guards, create for others, and use his length to be disruptive defensively makes him a major matchup problem for certain teams. I'd love to see less off-balance jumpers from him, but he continued to show flashes of why the team signed him to begin with.
- Speaking of defense, holding the Mavs to 36.8% shooting was quite impressive. I'll leave Monta Ellis' 2-for-14 shooting alone to avoid bringing old divisions to the surface, but what really stood out was the work Draymond Green did to hold Dirk Nowitzki to 5-for-16 shooting. There was a scary moment when Nowitzki began the second half by scoring seven points in four minutes while looking like a seven-foot Steph Curry, but that only serves to further underscore Green's defensive effort: outside that brief hot period, Nowitzki was just 2-for-13. Green just did a beautiful job illustrating what the primary goal of any defense should be: making the opponent uncomfortable.
Warrior Wonder: Steph Curry
Chef Curry is cookin' https://t.co/4SmMmSOWd1— LetsGoWarriors (@LetsGoWarriors) March 7, 2015
GIF: Spike Lee is unable to comprehend Steph Curry pic.twitter.com/e71JASLzLG— LOLKNBR (@LOLKNBR) March 7, 2015