After a 126-112 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday, the Golden State Warriors have steadied the ship with four straight wins following their roughest stretch of the season.
After a period of pessimism, things are starting to look up for the Golden State Warriors with key players either finding form or returning from injury.
On his 34th birthday, Stephen Curry had 47 points to power the Warriors to victory over a competitive Wizards outfit. Klay Thompson had a season-high 38 in the game before against the Milwaukee Bucks, while Jordan Poole has now tallied seven straight games of at least 20 points.
But most importantly, Draymond Green made a successful return against the Wizards following a long layoff with a worrisome back injury. The do-it-all forward played 20 minutes off the bench, looking every bit like the All-Star player he was at the beginning of the season.
For all the notable individual matters, the team performances have much to do with a change in mindset from head coach Steve Kerr. With just 13 games left in the regular season, Kerr seems to have ramped up the urgency as Golden State enters ‘playoff mode’.
In the current four-game win streak, Kerr has shortened his rotation to eight or nine players throughout a game. After regular contributions throughout the season, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damion Lee have been banished to the end of the bench.
Of course, the Warriors are still battling injuries issues from game to game. Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II are nearing a return, James Wiseman remains an x-factor having played two games in the G League, while Otto Porter Jr also made his return against the WIzards. With Andrew Wiggins sidelined with illness, we still haven’t seen the quartet of he along with Curry, Thompson and Green.
The squeeze is well and truly on for playoff minutes, particularly if Kerr retains an eight or nine-man rotation. Not only that, but there’s still debate about what their starting lineup may look like.
Things were rejuvenated when Kerr opted to start the three-guard lineup of Curry, Thompson and Jordan Poole, a move that’s paid serious dividends with the team averaging 124 points across the two-game sample.
Despite the incredible production that the trio has displayed, it must also give Kerr a serious headache. Regardless of the overwhelming success, surely it’s a fait accompli that Poole returns to the bench with Wiggins and Green fully healthy.
Kerr has used plenty of starting line-up combinations throughout the season, both due to strategy and various injury issues. After the win over the Bucks, Kerr alluded to the fact that could continue into the playoffs.
"“We’ve got to figure out quickly what combinations make sense. I think what’s becoming apparent to me this year is we could have a different lineup from game to game in the playoffs, from series to series.”"
The Warriors’ depth has been a crucial element in their success so far this season. But now we enter a point where a championship is within reach, with eager eyes awaiting Kerr’s moves as Golden State aim to hit their peak.