After a two-week hiatus (apologies to regular readers of this column), we’re back with the weekly review/preview segment for the Golden State Warriors, who are still flying high as one of the top teams in the league, and now with Klay Thompson’s return right around the corner.
The Dubs handled business on Christmas Day, winning the trilogy fight against the Phoenix Suns, but things don’t get any easier moving forward. It’s a brutal end to the year, but they look more than up to the challenge.
So let’s look back on the week that was, and forward to the week that will be.
Where they stand
Standing: 1st seed in the West (half game ahead of the Suns)
Offensive rating: 3rd (112.7)
Defensive rating: 1st (103.0)
Net rating: 2nd (+9.7)
Team ratings are garbage-time adjusted, courtesy of Cleaning The Glass.
It’s hard to envision a more encouraging game than the Christmas win against Phoenix. Even had the Dubs not won, the mere fact that it was a back-and-forth, fully up-for-grabs game all day spoke volumes.
Think about it: Golden State was on the road, against the defending Western Conference champions, who at the time held the league’s best record. Phoenix was essentially at full strength, while the Dubs were without their second and third-leading scorers, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, key bench player Damion Lee, and death lineup staple Andre Iguodala. And as ESPN’s camera crew repeatedly panned to the Warriors bench, you couldn’t help but think about how few games remain before Klay Thompson returns.
Win or loss, the point stood: the Warriors went toe to toe with one of the title favorites, while making a strong case for only being a shell of the team they’ll be when the postseason actually rolls around.
The win sure was nice though.
Performance of the week
Steph Curry vs. the Grizzlies: 46 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 13-for-22 shooting, 8-for-14 threes, 12-for-12 free throws.
Against one of the defenders in the league who plays him the best in Dillon Brooks, Curry broke out of an inefficient run with an absolute blitz of a game. He did it all offensively, springing free in magical ways for a plethora of threes, attacking the rim relentlessly, and showing divine finesse in between.
It was yet another compelling argument in his case for MVP.
Honorable mention goes to ...
Draymond Green vs. the Kings: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 7-for-11 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws.
A season high in points, a triple-double, and a quartet of stocks? Yep, that’s pretty damn good.
Highlight of the week
GP2 taking flight is officially my favorite thing right now.
GPII FROM THE RAFTERS pic.twitter.com/s9YfXdQ73I— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 25, 2021
But also have to shout out this absolutely quintessential Steph Curry bucket.
This weeks’s schedule
The Warriors spend their first two games facing one of the only players with a claim to Steph Curry’s throne as greatest offensive player alive (Nikola Jokić), and then spend their third and final game facing one of the only players with a claim to Draymond Green’s throne as greatest defensive player alive (Rudy Gobert).
Should be a fun way to conclude 2021.
Easiest game of the week
Tuesday against the Nuggets.
Denver has struggled this year, which probably has quite a bit to do with Jamal Murray not having played yet, and Michael Porter Jr. only lacing up his Pumas for nine games.
Any team with Jokić can be deadly dangerous at the drop of a hat, but the Nuggets are just .500 on the year, with a negative net rating. Even after their nice win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, they still sit just 8-10 on the road.
Hardest game of the week
Saturday at the Jazz.
Utah’s defense tends to get the bulk of the credit, partially because of Gobert’s trio of Defensive Player of the Year awards.
But their offense is outstanding. It’s more than outstanding — it’s historic. Utah’s garbage-time adjusted offensive rating of 118.5 is 4.8 points per 100 possessions better than the Charlotte Hornets No. 2 offense.
That gap between No. 1 and No. 2 is bigger than the gap between No. 2 and No. 21.
During the Warriors 73-win season, they scored 114.9 points per 100 possessions. In the first year of the Kevin Durant era, the Dubs scored 116.8 points per 100 possessions.
The Jazz are scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions.
The usual caveats and hesitation with Utah will apply until they prove it in the playoffs, but right now their offense is, quite arguably, the best the NBA has ever seen.
Three games, three tough opponents. How will the Dubs do?
How will the Warriors do this week?
This poll is closed