I am running out of words to accurately summarize and coherently portray this team without producing the same drivel every single game. There are times that this Golden State Warriors team will blow your mind. And then there are other times that they will blow your mind. In a completely different manner, in an aspect of the game you forgot to pay attention to, and then forcing you to consider and reconsider at which point things will ever change.
In tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks, things did change and for once, against the Golden State Warriors. Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut both drew two quick personal fouls, landing them a seat on the bench. And as attested all season long, the bench not only picked up the slack but outplayed the opposing team to the point watching Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, and Andre Iguodala produce big play after big play put the rest of the season in focus.
Games like these not only set forth a standard that reaches past just this season but prepares Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green ample amount of time to find their legs again as the games start to really matter in a few weeks. This is how red the roses are. The Warriors are getting minutes from a center that could anchor their defense in the future, getting huge backup point guard minutes if teams want to go small in the postseason, getting a healthy lockdown wing defender hitting 3s at a rate rivalling that of the Splash Brothers, and to place the cherry on top, grabbing a stretch-center nailing threes.
The Warriors are now 63-13, clinched home-court advantage in every single playoff series until next season, and will have a rested team by the time mid-April rolls around. If there's a downside to anything that has occurred so far, please do not comment so the other people won't have to flag you.
I haven't done one of these in a while so let's get to the minute details of a really, really long game that saw the Dallas Mavericks shoot 54 free throws (nearly three hours).
1. Shaun Livingston, for some odd reason, did nothing to Dirk Nowitzki that didn't remotely resemble a basketball play. I'll leave it up to your interpretation.
I really don't know. Shaun Livingston doesn't seem to be a person who plays dirty. Regardless, Dirk wasn't seriously injured long-term and that's likely the last time we'll see a play like that from Livingston.
2. I can't tell if Andre Iguodala is streaky or not. He doesn't shoot well from the corners, even when wide open, but is very good at random pull-ups threes from above the break, traditionally the tougher shot. He's probably more comfortable shooting off-the-dribble at this point in his career given that he handles the ball so much. Iguodala even looked off Curry a few times to get his own shot - including a turnaround baseline J reminiscent of Livingston. While Harrison Barnes is struggling, a rested Iguodala is by far the best sixth man in the league.
3. Marreese Speights shoots threes as smoothly as he shoots midrange jumpers. Whereas we've heard that David Lee has been practicing during the offseason our entire career, Speights has taken the necessary step forward and has actually shot it in games. Pretty neat trick where the Warriors always seem to run plays for Speights to get them at the end of quarters, providing him less resistance and zero pressure to take and make them.
4. Draymond Green defended Nowitzki just fine, did his usual amount of switching, and found Stephen Curry wide open in transition as his body was nearly under the rim. Green looked healthy.
5. Festus Ezeli is someone that could take over for Andrew Bogut a couple seasons from now - if only on the defensive end. He hasn't mastered when to jump or not to jump, or timing the shooting, but he contests and attacks so many penetrators that he stifles all driving for minutes at a time. He won't ever reach the passing or even screening levels of Bogut but there is great potential there. That left-shoulder hook shot is a reliable, and welcome development, as well.
6. Stephen Curry's shooting is as phenomenal as ever. In a rare off game, he only took four threes and nailed one but the one was spectacular in a subtle, and awesome fashion. He set a screen at the right wing, watched as Thompson cut to the baseline, and backpedaled backwards to the wing for a three. He wasn't necessarily wide-open but it only takes him beating his defender by half a step to quick-release that shot. We're all spoiled but just watching Curry excel at the little things like that will always leave me grateful, and in awe.
The Golden State Warriors travel to San Antonio tomorrow to take on the Spurs at 4 PM PST.