A 2-2 road trip that saw the Golden State Warriors play tough despite injuries to several key players should give the Dubs confidence as they return home on Thursday night to take on the Dallas Mavericks at Oracle Arena. Now, the question is how long those injuries will linger.
Stephen Curry could very well sit out again after watching the Warriors’ 108-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in street clothes. Harrison Barnes doesn’t appear likely to play, either. That means it will once again be up to the backcourt of Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson to generate scoring opportunities for Golden State, who will face an underachieving but fully healthy Mavericks team looking to get back into the postseason chase.
Thompson may be an even bigger key than Jack. Klay’s 32 points in Cleveland represented a career high and showcased his potential to coach Mark Jackson. Only in his second season, Thompson has the ability to become a very effective scorer if he avoids becoming discouraged when his first several shots don’t fall. Expect Jackson to get the ball to Thompson early and often to try and get his stroke going.
As one would expect, David Lee’s role becomes even more important with Curry on the bench. Golden State’s lone All-Star has played like it all season, but he may have to step it up even further if Curry is going to be out for any extended period of time. The good news is that the Warriors survived the toughest stretch of schedule they’ll have to endure all season and came out clean on the other side. As long as Curry’s injury isn’t devastating, teams like Dallas are still very beatable.
That’s not to say they still won’t present a challenge for Golden State. Dirk Nowitzki has lost a half-step over the past couple of seasons, but he’s still a scoring threat who can take over a game at any time. He tallied a season-high 26 points in the Mavs’ latest contest, a heartbreaking 106-104 defeat at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers. O.J. Mayo had a fantastic game in a recent showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and leads Dallas in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game.
Outside of those two threats, however, it’s easy to see why Dallas has struggled in 2012-13. The defense simply isn’t what it was two seasons ago, surrendering 103 points per game, a figure that ranks 29th in the NBA. That’s a bad recipe for success facing a team like Golden State that can run with anybody and excels at home. Rick Carlisle will have to figure out how to slow down the Warriors early, or the Dubs could turn the game into a track meet.
Missing Curry, Harrison Barnes and even Carl Landry will limit Golden State in some aspects, but its depth should bail them out against the Mavericks. The Warriors finally have what they’ve been missing ever since the “We Believe” run in ’06-’07: solid bench players who can pick p the slack if any of the starters find themselves in a sling. Taking on a flawed team like Dallas, that should be good enough.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (28-17) vs. Dallas Mavericks (19-26)
WHERE: Oracle Arena
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., CSN Bay Area
AT STAKE: Golden State needs to show it can win without some of its star players. A loss to a struggling Dallas team would hurt.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Klay Thompson. Expect a lot of shots from him whether they’re going in or not.
PREDICTION: Even a depleted Warriors team should handle the Mavs. 101-90, Golden State.