I grew up watching a lot of really bad Golden State Warriors basketball — their play in recent years has made that seem like a distant, although ugly, memory.
But we aren’t here to compare old war wounds, instead it’s time to appreciate the heart of this current team. In just a handful of years, this team has probably collected more fans than they did in my entire lifetime up to that point. Yet down four All-Stars and playing against a Utah Jazz team fighting for their playoff positioning, the Warriors were only able to hold the inevitable at bay for so long. After staying within six points at halftime, the lead ballooned into a 89-65 Jazz advantage after a Warriors-esque third quarter stomping.
It was a great time out!
Remember this? Nothing against Adonal Foyle (who is one of the greatest Warriors’ centers of all-time - no joke), but there isn’t enough peppy horn music in the world to convince me that he has the necessary talent to lead a team deep into the playoffs.
There were actually some bright spots last night, and I honestly do think it’s enough to give us hope. Quinn Cook is nice. He managed 17 points, eight assists, and four rebounds while running the offense as well as you could hope. One of the most useful aspects of his game is that he doesn’t turn the ball over - an issue that is a minor annoyance when we have the full squad pouring in points, but a major concern when our offense is as anemic as it was on Sunday.
Patrick McCaw is still looking for consistency, and thrusting him into a bigger role seems to be forcing the issue - in a good way. His shot wasn’t falling (3-10 for the night), but I like that Kerr is giving him minutes. Just to throw it back into those mid-2000s Warriors teams, McCaw reminds me a bit of Mike Dunleavy in that if his shot actually goes in, it seems to have an unusually weighty impact on the game’s outcome.
Iguodala is also doing well coming into form just in time for the end of the season. He’s shot 50% from three since the all star break - a key factor for a successful playoff run, regardless of who else plays.
Our “center by committee” approach that coach Steve Kerr seems committed to has been sneakily effective all season. Last night, we got 8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks from Javale McGee; 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists from Zaza Pachulia; and Jordan Bell chipped in six, four and four as well.
Yeah, we lost the game, but the role players did ok. It wasn’t nearly enough to win the game, but then again, these aren’t the players who we’ll be relying on to win games. They just need to not be a disaster; so in that sense it was a moral victory.
Persevere and hope
These are pretty dark times around here. Although there haven’t been any super significant long-term injuries, the injury bug has bitten this squad hard enough that I’d be ready to listen to the case that this is actually the worst-case scenario for the Warriors.
Over the past four seasons, here are the number of different starting lineups the Warriors have used: 8, 12, 14... and then 23 this year. 23 different starting lineups. Steph Curry only played 51 games this season.
And yet, it’s not that bad.
Kevin Durant and Draymond Green should be back this week. Klay Thompson will be re-evaluated on Friday. With just about three weeks left in the season, the Warriors are dragging across the finish line.
But this is how the most amazing post season storylines start. All season they’ve looked disinterested, have fallen behind and not seemed to care - almost like they expected it.
Well, we’ve got another week or two of this, and then we get most of our team back. While Curry may not be there right when the games start to matter, enough of the core will be back to move the needle. Hopefully that will be enough to keep the dream alive until Curry can play again.
No matter what though, it’s a great time out watching the rest of the team do whatever they can.