Technically, Steph Curry returned to the Golden State Warriors last week. But he was a bit rusty in his first game back, a lackluster loss to the Detroit Pistons that capped off a losing week.
His second game back? The good ol’ Steph we know and love. Curry returned in earnest this week, and led the Dubs to an undefeated week, despite all three of their games being on the road. It turned things around for the club, which lost the first two games of the five-game road trip, and was falling in the standings. Just like that, they finished with a winning trip east, and found their way back to the top of the Western Conference.
Funny how that happens when Steph is around.
Performance this week
Point differential: +51
Year to date
Offensive rating: 1st (114.5)
Defensive rating: 18th (108.8)
Net rating: 6th (+5.7)
Conference standings: 1st (0.5 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder)
The week’s results
Game #25: Golden State Warriors 128, Atlanta Hawks 111
After being deprived of it a few weeks ago, we got to see the media-hyped showdown between Steph Curry and Trae Young. More importantly, we got to see Curry look like his true self (which may have been partially due to Young’s atrocious defense). Golden State did what they were supposed to - but haven’t always done this year - and easily put away a bad team.
Top performer: Kevin Durant - 28 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 10-13 FG, 7-8 FT
Game #26: Golden State Warriors 129, Cleveland Cavaliers 105
The Warriors and Cavs had met 30 times over the last four years. On Wednesday they met again, but with LeBron James out of the picture, it simply wasn’t the same. Still, Cleveland fought their former rivals valiantly, and took a halftime lead. But the third quarter Warriors returned, and shut the door on the young Cavs.
Top performer: Steph Curry - 42 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 11-20 FG, 9-14 3FG, 11-12 FT
Game #127: Golden State Warriors 105, Milwaukee Bucks 95
Revenge! The Bucks gave the Warriors their worst home loss in recent memory earlier in the season. But Golden State was unfazed in the rematch. The length that gave the Dubs fits the first time around was minimized in game two, and the Warriors had their best defensive performance in the 14 games that Draymond Green has missed.
Top performer: Klay Thompson - 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 8-16 FG, 4-9 3FG
The week’s big stories
Health is on the horizon
Last week was capped off by Damian Jones suffering a potential season-ending injury, but this week was better. Steph Curry found his groove. Alfonzo McKinnie returned. Draymond Green progressed to the point where he was campaigning to play on Friday. And DeMarcus Cousins is very, very close. The team is nearing some semblance of health, and that’s a welcome sign.
The road is in the past, for now
The sweep of the week gave the Warriors a winning five-game road trip. It was already the third road trip of three or more games that the team has had this year. Now they get a little break, as they won’t have a road trip of more than two games until January 18, when they embark on another five-game trip - but the first two games are in Los Angeles.
The Bucks have been beaten
Let’s get one thing straight: At full strength, the Warriors are certainly better than the Bucks. But Milwaukee has established itself as one of the league’s top teams, and their beatdown of the Warriors at Oracle Arena opened a lot of eyes. The Bucks posed a fair number of questions that the Warriors had no answers for. In the rematch, the Warriors had the answers (and Milwaukee still hasn’t faced a Golden State squad with Draymond Green, let alone DeMarcus Cousins). If anyone was questioning how a potential Warriors-Bucks NBA Finals would go . . . question no more.