If you’re waiting for the Golden State Warriors to win pretty one of these nights, well, keep dreaming.
It was a workmanlike effort that gave the Dubs a 105-97 win over the Detroit Pistons (23-44) at Oracle Arena on Wednesday, their fourth victory in the last six games. Stephen Curry scored 31, David Lee had 20 and 15 and all was well.
What’s scary is that if anything less than Curry and Lee’s usual brilliance had transpired, Golden State might have suffered a horrifying home loss. Good teams will limit your best players, at which time the role guys and bench players must step up.
Only Jarrett Jack contributed anything meaningful from the pine on Wednesday night, dropping 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Even the other starters, Klay Thompson in particular, endured “off” nights against a bad team. Thompson had one his poorer shooting nights of the season, hitting just four of his 15 field goal attempts and draining just one three-pointer. Harrison Barnes, aside from a few flashy slam dunks, was average, tallying 13
A win is a win, but it’s been clear for weeks now that the Warriors are not playing their best basketball in the midst of the most important part of the campaign. Even a 29-point victory over the New York Knicks on Monday felt sloppy, and was arguably more attributable to New York’s horrendous shooting than anything else.
The point, or rather the question, is “Where is this season going?” Golden State does seem to raise its game against premier opponents, but it will take more than sheer will to 1) finish the season strong enough to avoid playing the Thunder or Spurs in the first round, in which case it might not matter how well the Warriors are playing and 2) advance into the Western Conference semi-finals.
That falls largely on the shoulders of Thompson (who has been more inconsistent than disappointing), and Barnes. The starting five must have viable threats outside of Curry and Lee, or else opponents more skilled than Detroit will severely limit Golden State’s scoring chances. Thompson has shown flashes of brilliance, but a less-than-stellar shooting night against one of the poorer defensive teams in the NBA is slightly discouraging. Barnes, meanwhile, actually raised his scoring average on Wednesday, but is still in single digits towards the end of a season that promised much more from the second year small forward.
Not all was mediocre against Detroit, however. For the second straight game, the Warriors played solid defense, the aspect of their game that suffered badly during the month of February. Among Pistons starters, only Kyle Singler managed to shoot 50 percent from the field. The Dubs also managed to play terrific perimeter D, holding Detroit to just five three-pointers. Andrew Bogut continues to look healthier and healthier, adding three blocks to go along with his double-digit rebound evening.
If the Warriors can somehow put together a strong offensive and defensive night, they might really have something. Until that happens, expect a lot of close, scrappy wins with a few disappointing losses thrown in. Golden State may have to hope that will be enough to keep them playing deep into the spring.