Welcome to the first edition of my weekly “Monday Musings” column, where I — you guessed it — “muse” about the week that was for the Golden State Warriors and look ahead to what’s in store in the next seven days.
It was a busy week for the Golden State Warriors, who began it by hanging on to beat the Nets on the road, followed by a disappointing loss to Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. But they recovered with strong wins over the Bulls and Pelicans at Oracle Arena on back-to-back nights.
Things I Liked
I liked … the wins against the Bulls and the Pelicans to wrap up the week, especially playing shorthanded without Kevin Durant and Draymond Green against Chicago on Friday and without KD again on Saturday against a tough Pelicans team.
It was important for the Warriors to regain their footing after taking a beating in Oklahoma City on Wednesday (more on that later), and they did so by winning the first two games of a three-game homestand.
I was in attendance for Friday’s blowout win over the Bulls, and I was a tad nervous when the lowly Bulls hung with the Warriors for the first quarter. But, in essence, the game turned into what the Warriors looked like pre-KD, and …
I liked … how Stephen Curry has once again become the the focal part of the offense with Durant out. Not that I don’t like it when Durant is the No. 1 option — and let’s face it, Durant is the best scorer on the team — but it felt like one the old days on Friday, especially when Steph went off for 26 points in the second quarter.
We don’t see much of that anymore, given Durant’s presence and the fact that the Warriors simply don’t need Curry to force up shots and be superhuman to win regular season games. But for a night, it was nice to hear Oracle “oohing” and “aahing” to every Curry release, with the occasional groan on the rare miss. Speaking of rare misses …
I liked … how Klay Thompson is quietly having his most efficient season yet. Thompson is shooting a cool 50 percent from the field, the highest clip amongst 20-point scorers in the league. He recovered from an off-night in OKC with stellar performances against the Bulls and Pelicans at home. His jump shot looks pure, and he looked as dialed-in as he’s ever been. And with Durant and Green out on Friday, Thompson poured in 29 to keep pace with Curry’s 33, bringing back some nostalgia for the days where the Splash Brothers carried the Warriors to victory. It was the best of both worlds over the weekend, as …
I liked … how Steve Kerr is sprinkling in rest days for his stars throughout the season.
“It’s something I’m going to do periodically during the year. Last year during The Finals I thought there were games where Draymond, we were almost piecing him together,” Kerr said before Friday’s game. “Because of how hard he plays and because the nature of his game we just need to give him a rest once in a while. I planned this one a week ago.”
It’s smart, and, of course, it’s not like they needed Draymond to beat the Bulls. And it’s nice to have the luxury of sitting two All-Stars and having two more All-Stars to fill in the void. Plus ….
I liked … Jordan Bell. As in, I really like Jordan Bell. He notched his first career start against the Bulls, the team that the Warriors paid in cash to draft him. He had 7 points, six rebounds, six blocks and two steals in 26 minutes, and he basically filled in Draymond’s role to perfection.
I mean, he basically is Draymond Green’s little.
Things I Didn’t Like
I didn’t like … the loss to the Thunder. It was game that the Thunder took way more seriously than the Warriors, and there’s no excuse for that. Sure, it was a road game, and sure, in the long run, the Thunder might not even be good enough to meet the Warriors in a playoffs series.
But the Warriors had two days off before this game, and it’s not like there’s any nightlife in Oklahoma City to distract them. They had Durant suit up, a national TV audience. And they laid an egg. They let a wobbly Thunder team walk over them, and it was never really close.
This is a game that you hand to the Thunder, and then wait for the next meeting to prove your worth. I’m not too concerned that the Warriors would be fazed by the Thunder in a seven-game playoff series, but here’s the thing: The Thunder loaded up on firepower in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony specifically to matchup with the Warriors. And for one night, it worked. Also …
I didn’t like … the Warriors’ complacency against the Nets. They built a 22-point lead in the second half and the game was pretty much wrapped up, until the Warriors let the Nets gain momentum and cut the lead to as little as 4 points with Curry fouled out.
It was a near disaster. Chalk it up to the Warriors being “bored” over the course of a grueling season, but you’d like to see this team — which has blown enough big leads this season already — finish the job when it clearly is the better team on the floor. I should not be hearing Spencer Dinwiddie‘s name that much.
A Look Ahead
After playing the Kings at home on Monday, the Warriors face their longest road trip — a six-gamer — beginning Wednesday in Los Angeles to take on the Lakers and ending in Detroit next Friday. In between, they’ll visit Orlando, Miami, New Orleans and Charlotte.
I’m looking forward to … seeing Steph Curry welcome Lonzo Ball to the NBA. This should be a very interesting point guard matchup on Wednesday, if only because an infamous sports dad claims that Lonzo is already better than Steph.
To be honest, I feel bad for Lonzo, for the media attention and hoopla that LaVar has created. And you know that everyone will be clamoring for Curry to destroy Ball on Wednesday and show him up on his home floor. While I will admit to hoping that happens because I hate the sight of LaVar gloating, I don’t blame any of it on Lonzo. And …
I’m looking forward to … how the Warriors approach next Sunday’s game against the Heat. Last season, Dion Waiters singlehandedly shocked them with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, and I’m sure Thompson remembers that shot.
Spencer Dinwiddie and Dion Waiters: two names that I don’t want to hear anymore.