The Golden State Warriors have gotten off to an incredible start to the season. Here are 5 story lines to pay close attention to throughout the rest of the season as the Warriors look to defend their title.
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The Warriors steamrolled through the first half of the regular season, terrorizing the league on their way to a 48-4 record.
It’s been a fun season so far for Dubs fans, filled with fancy passes, deep three pointers, and of course plenty of wins. The final stretch to the playoffs should be a fun ride, so let’s take a look at a few storylines we should keep our eyes on the last few months of the regular season.
5. Can Mo Speights find his groove?
Marreese Speights has been terrible for the most part this season, and I stand by my refusal to call him “Mo Buckets” until he starts, you know, getting buckets again. So far this season, Speights is averaging 6.3 pts and 3.4 boards per game, with a true shooting percentage of 46% and only 0.5 win shares. Speights problem this season has been his inability to hit the midrange jumper we were used to seeing him knockdown last season. Per Basketball Reference, Mo is only hitting 29% of jumpers from 10-16 feet (yikes), compared to last season when he hit 50% of those shots from that distance. Coach Steve Kerr seems determined to let Speights play through his first half slump, and it will be interesting to see if Mo will be able to find his shot and continue to be the spark off the bench us Warriors fans are accustomed to him being.
4. Will the Warriors go 41-0 at home?
The 1986 Celtics have the best home record of all time at 40-1. The Warriors currently sit at 24-0 at Oracle, and they still have home games to be played against lowly teams like the Magic, Pelicans, Sixers, Suns, Knicks, and T-Wolves. You hear Warriors’ players praising the Oracle Arena atmosphere/stands after every home game, on Twitter or during the post game interview with Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, and it almost seems like the players feel like they owe it to the fans to go undefeated at home.
3. Festus Ezeli‘s knee injury
Ezeli had surgery on his left knee earlier this month, and as of right now there’s no timetable for his return. The Warriors expect Ezeli to be back before the playoffs start, but we won’t know for sure until he’s revaluated in five weeks. I highlighted the importance of Ezeli’s presence in this article earlier this season, and it will be interesting to see how Kerr adjusts his rotations/minute distribution. One thing is clear, if Ezeli isn’t healthy come playoff time, the Warriors might be totally screwed. Who’s suppose to play Ezeli’s minutes? Kevon Looney?! Mo Speights?! JAMES MICHAEL MCADOO?!?!? Oh boy. Let’s just hope Andrew Bogut stays relatively down the stretch.
2. Warriors playing Western Conference contenders
The Warriors only played the Thunder and Spurs once before the All Star break. I’m not going to lie, when I first saw the schedule I was upset that we’d have to wait a while before we saw the Dubs play higher level teams on a more consistent basis. Now I’m ecstatic. The Warriors have two games each against the Clippers and Thunder, and three more games, (two away), against the Spurs. The Warriors had a point differential of +12.3 against those three teams so far this season, but the remaining games will have a playoff like feel to them, and they should be nice appetizers to the series we will see in the playoffs.
1. Will the Warriors beat the ’96 Bulls single season wins record?
The Warriors have won 92% of their games this season. That’s 48 wins out of 52 games. Golden State has 30 games left, meaning they have to go at least 25-5 down the stretch to grab the wins record. The Warriors are going to go for the wins record, but as previously mentioned, they still have seven games against the Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers, and the Warriors will continue to get every team’s best shot all season. If the Warriors can get through their upcoming seven game road trip relatively easily, there’s no way this team loses five games.