Everyone raise your glass! Let's give a toast to the clock striking 12 and rising in the New Year!
2015 was a fantastic year for the Golden State Warriors and their fans, and it is almost sad to see the year come to an end! We pause for a moment to reflect on this amazing 2015: 41-1 at home, good enough for the best home regular season record in NBA history, along with one of the best overall records in NBA history.
We saw the franchise bring home an MVP in Stephen Curry, another All-NBA players in Draymond Green's emergence as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The list goes on and on. What more could we have asked for?
*Cheer from the crowd*
In times like these, it is always good to reflect on the good, and to make some proclamations for the future. In setting the bar so high for the New Year, it will take even more to now meet some pretty lofty goals and expectations for 2016. In the tradition of New Year's, let us make some resolutions for the team!
#1: Get Healthy!
There have been some impressive wins for the Warriors over the last 365 days. The Warriors didn't win a championship on Thursday night, but they did grit out a banner victory over the Rockets that will be remembered because of the adversity. Missing Steph Curry, Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes and Leandro Barbosa, the rest of the squad found a way to win the game.
The injury bug has avoided the roster for so long, so to see a few players finally be hit seems almost inevitable. Unfortunately, so many were hit at the same time, and Golden State found themselves with 10 healthy bodies (nine actually playing as Jason Thompson can't get off the bench at this point). The franchise did the right thing. I'm sure if this was a playoff game, Curry suits up and so does Harrison Barnes. But the coaching staff has already decided — and rightfully so — that wins don't take importance over health. Allowing a few extra days rest for the stars was perfect and needed.
The next step will be to get everyone back out on the floor, and that might happen as soon as Saturday night. Barnes has been back at the practice facility getting his fitness back, and Curry almost suited as it is. Even better is that the team will get our head coach back, as Steve Kerr is rumored to be back on the bench Saturday night.
So raise your glass and give a big cheer to health and happiness in 2016!! *Tinks glass*
#2: Balanced Contributions from the Roster
This win would seem more impressive if you didn't realize that the remaining players still contain All-Stars and NBA Finals MVPs — when Steph Curry sits down, it isn't as if the Warriors turn into the Sixers.
It will continue to be important to get a balanced contribution from the roster nightly. Thursday it was about Draymond Green and another triple-double. Klay Thompson also had a great shooting night without the benefit of Curry getting all the defensive attention. It was a balanced attack for a team that has periodic tendencies to wait to feed off the energy of their superstar. The impressive part was the passing and fluid offense that did not include resorting to shooting threes when things got difficult. They took advantage of a weak Houston offense to back cut and lob their way to easy baskets all night long.
Side note: How bad have the Rockets become? That team on the court last night looked seriously disinterested in playing 48 solid minutes. They would look like world beaters for minutes at a time, then would complain and flail their way to defensive lapses and bad shots. No wonder Kevin McHale was fired. This team just generally does not seem to care about getting better. I am going to picture a huge rebuild coming soon for these guys, and for their benefit they do have the parts and picks to make a big trade to throw a curve ball into it. I think the Dwight Howard experiment is just about over. His antics and one-dimensional game are out of place and should be someone else's problem very soon.
But we digress.. back to the resolution. The Warriors need to continue this level of effort from the complete roster so that their second unit can keep the momentum when the starters sit. The benefit of these injuries have been that the role players like Ian Clarke and Brandon Rush have given their full audition for playing time. The front office has a choice coming up to add resources to the roster in a trade for the playoff run or to go with what they have.
So raise your glass to the role players on this roster becoming a bigger part of team! *Tink Tink*
#3: Less turnovers!
If Golden State had lost on Thursday, the main story would have been the turnovers. Without Curry to control the offense, Corey Brewer became the team's worse nightmare overplaying the lanes and disrupting lazy entry passes. The turnovers against the Rockets were not the usual overaggressive passes looking to make the big play. They were the "unforced errors" of turnovers, the ones that turned into easy buckets for the Rockets.
With Steve Kerr coming back, I believe the team will have bit more discipline backing back to their approach to the game.
Let's raise our glasses to eliminating the turnovers! *Tink Tink*
Well everyone, we have enjoyed 2015 to its fullest. We celebrated one of the best years in franchise history, and had plenty to cheer for. Everyone take a moment to brush off that new Curry jersey you got for Christmas, put on the YouTube highlights of the NBA Finals, and ring in the New Year with a happy reflection of where we went and where we are going.
Games like Thursday night's remind us less about where we have been, but that there are even more ways this team can improve. Once the full roster returns and the Warriors get back to playing their brand of basketball, there is no reason to think that the bar set in 2015 can be set even higher for 2016. So cheers to all the fans who were there to experience the fun, and prepare for what's to come!
(follow me on twitter @badiehard)