The Golden State Warriors' 2015-2016 regular season was defined by their dogged pursuit of available pages in the record book upon which they could dump all their ink. Every game counted as a potential win in their quest for the win/loss grail. The foot was always on the gas pedal.
It's beginning to look like the Warriors' 2016-2017 regular season will be defined by their quest to configure their cruise control.
And just like for the rest of us, it's taking some trial and error to figure out how those damned cruise control buttons work.
In the first game of their first extended east coast road trip of the season, the Warriors outlasted the Toronto Raptors 127-121. The Raptors, a team that plays the Warriors tough and have started the season strong behind an offensively dominant early season performance by DeMar DeRozan, were performing in front of their god-emperor on his namesake day, the mighty and glorious Drake. He wore a cool Doris Burke shirt and talked smack all game to Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
After a just-hang-in-there first quarter, the Warriors — quite possibly in response to Drake's yakkity-yak, if Steph's expressive and well-located long-ball celebrations were any indication — found some juice and went on a quick tear. They pushed it up to 19 midway through the 3rd quarter, mostly behind customary takeovers by Steph and KD, buttressed by a trademark Draymond Green defensive performance that I would describe as a "loud smothering".
And, yes, while the Raptors finished the game with 121 points, the Warriors' defense showed what they're capable of when they decide to, you know, try: quick and smart hands, length and ranginess all over the place, and the ability to collect immediate dividends on the break.
But, while they never gave up the lead after the 5-minute mark of the 2nd, they still didn't quite coast, as the Raptors fought back from a 19-point deficit to within 5 points midway through the 3rd quarter. The Warriors answered with another little nitro burst before kinda sputtering across the finish line, needing to close it out at the charity stripe.
This is still the same Warriors team from last year that just hates to lose. The difference this year is that they don't really need to _win_ — not until playoff time. It seems their goal this year is to find a way to do win without really trying.
Ok ok, I already know you stopped reading because you just want to get into the comments to talk about Patrick McCaw. Have at it.