The Golden State Warriors eclipse all platitudes. They have swung the success pendulum from the past so far towards the other side that the rod is spinning the other way, out of control, and defying all courses of gravity. On Tuesday night, much of what has happened all season kept on happening. It isn't the all-dominant performance that marked so many of last year's daily triumphs. No, this is the norm that the Warriors have created and commodified for themselves in this 67-7 dream of a season.
They started flashy, slowed down, got bored, spotted the opposing team a small lead, turned the jets back on to turn the tide and crush the confidence of those other guys, then cruise controlled the rest of the way home.
To convert that template to the Washington Wizards 102-94 win, the Warriors started with a hailstorm of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson 3s then slowed down as the Wizards started to find open cutters to the basket. Then as the Wizards stretched their lead to 10 late in the second quarter behind some stingy defense, the Warriors went smallball and turned that deficit from 10 to a lead of 3 in just over 3 minutes. For the rest of the game, the Warriors would mess around until the highlight-hunting started late in the 4th quarter. The lead got cut in garbage time, maybe even a little too close as Steve Kerr admitted in the postgame interview, but the Warriors got away with it.
"I think I get more frustrated and then I try and temper my reaction because I understand tha tthey are deep into the season and maybe running a little bit on cruise control." - Kerr on the mini-collapse at the end of the game that felt more like boredom and cockiness than anything else.
And is the point all season, the Warriors play every single game, every half, and every minute like they are going to win no matter what. Even in points of last season, Steph and Klay would hesitate on open 3s or look flustered under considerable physical pressure (think Memphis Grizzlies playoff series). After they climbed over that championship mountain, there's the air of confidence that feels more like arrogant belief than anything else. The best part for these Warriors? It's all working no matter what.
After a considerably dreadful stretch, Harrison Barnes is coming back alive. The rebounding came back today where he squeezed through Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat for Draymond Green-esque boards. He's hitting open 3s again and even cleared a Euro-step floater in transition. Leandro Barbosa is supposed to be washed up, right? Anderson Varejao even had a few nice hustle plays despite the inability to even shoot open jumpers. With Festus Ezeli and Andre Iguodala both nearing returns, the rest of the Warriors role players are rounding into form at just the right moment.
Midway through the fourth quarter, I noted that the Warriors were inevitably going to break the Chicago Bulls record but a lot of this was becoming a tad boring. It isn't to say the gameplay itself is bad but that there isn't any suspense left beyond the occasional highlight hunting plays.
But Curry had something prescient to say after the game for those like myself who are wearing down at the end of the season and finding new things to whine about, "You can fall into the trap and the human nature of it and we've been playing for so long to keep it going...Every night we've just go tto dig deep and enjoy the game and not get wrapped up in pressure and angst."
At the end of the day, the Golden State Warriors are not only the most fun team to watch in the world, but also the one that has the most fun. That says much more about the record itself than any statistic.
Since my game stories can get a little monotonous at times, why don't we get some more quick game notes going?
1. Ian Clark is a great feel-good story from a Summer League star turned NBA player but man has he been awful when he has to play minutes. He might own a worse handle than Harrison Barnes.
2. The City jerseys are by far the best in the league.
3. The crowd barely cheered when Draymond Green threw a behind-the-back pass that hit the side of the backboard into an Andrew Bogut dunk. Not the most attentive moment for one of the better highlights, intentional or not, of the season.
4. Barnes is slowly rounding into form but he's still unwilling to take risks. In the second quarter, he had Barbosa streaking by the defense but refused to pull the trigger on him because he didn't want to lead the receiver - a pass Draymond makes 10 times out of 10.
5. This was the Washington Wizards' best effort. It has to be since they're a losing team and they've now played the Warriors tough twice. Can you imagine if every NBA team was tricked into thinking every NBA game was played against the Warriors?