Warriors ho-hum their way to comfy victory over Wizards

The Warriors weren’t great and they weren’t terrible on Tuesday night, so whatever they were against the Washington Wizards at Oracle Arena was good enough for a 102-94 win. Golden State is now 67-7, which remains surreal to anyone who followed the team in the early 1990s.

Here are some notes and things from the Warriors’ victory, their 54th straight in the regular season at home:

–If there’s one area that continues to confound opponents it’s the Warriors’ ability to turn second shots into three points. Time and time again this season the Warriors have missed initially, only to then come up with an offensive rebound and kick out to one of their shooters. These are demoralizing scores for the other team.

The Warriors are the most efficient team in the NBA, so when you do force a miss, it’s imperative you get the rebound. Failing to secure the rebound often results in a scramble situation defensively, and no team spins around a defense faster than the Warriors.

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Warriors have won virtually every game they “could have” lost

When you’re the first team in NBA history to ring up a 66-7 record after 73 games, there’s little doubt you’re a dominant team. And that’s what the Golden State Warriors are right now.

But there’s another way to look at it: You can’t get to 66-7 without getting a few breaks along the way. Yes, it’s always a slippery slope when you start to talk about games a team should have won or could have won. But this year the Warriors have been remarkable in very close games, and have seemingly won every game they “should have” or “could have” lost. Even great teams lose a few close games a season.

But you could make a case the Warriors have only lost one game this year they had a shot at winning — at Denver on Jan. 13. In that game, without Draymond Green, the Warriors came storming back from seven down with a minute left and wound up with Klay Thompson getting a look at a 25-footer that could have won it. Other than that, it’s been all Warriors in tight ones.

Obviously, if you’re a Warriors fan, you’re thinking: That’s what great teams do; win the close games. And there’s no arguing that. But if you’re looking for a reason to be critical of the Warriors, here are some of the games the Warriors “should have” or “could have” lost — and they won them all:

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Aschburner: on Warriors’ place in NBA history, why old-timers are criticizing Curry, what’s up with the Cavs, & more

Steve Aschburner is one of the best NBA writers going, and it’s been that way for a while. He is a senior writer at NBA.com and before that he worked for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Milwaukee Journal. His perspective on the NBA is matched by few as far as I’m concerned.

John Dickinson and I were thrilled to have Steve join us on the “NBA This Week” on 95.7-FM The Game and he talked on a variety of hoops topics, including the Warriors, Stephen Curry, the Cavaliers and league in general.

You can listen to the interview on the “NBA This Week” right here. There’s also a link at bottom of post.

Below are some excerpts from the interview.

–On where he puts the current Warriors team in the annals of basketball history and other great NBA teams:

Aschburner: I would think this team is top 3, 4 5 range. Maybe higher if it gets to 73. I’m not actively looking to hold them back. I don’t think 73 or practically speaking 72 was the definition of greatest team of all time. That’s best single season record of all time and I don’t consider the 95-96 Bulls the greatest team of all time. …

I think the 85-86 Celtics  were a tremendous team. The 71-72 Lakers who won 33 in a row, when Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West were pretty old for that time as veterans. I think the 66-67 76ers team that Wilt played on and I think there were one or two of the Russell Celtics teams that I would have in my top half dozen.

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Warriors take care of business vs. Dallas, but little more

The Golden State Warriors took care of business on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks, beating them 128-120 at Oracle Arena — their 52nd consecutive win at home. The game wasn’t a beauty, by any stretch, but it was plenty good enough to beat the reeling Mavs.

Coach Steve Kerr called the team’s defense “horrific,” which is no way for a team to head into the postseason. Then again, the Warriors are still getting it done — even when they’re not at their best. It’s the sign of a great team.

On Friday night’s “Dubs Postgame” show, we talked about several aspects to Friday’s game. You can download the “Dubs Postgame” show right here. Here are some of the talking points about last night’s game.

–J.J. Barea, Wes Matthews and Raymond Felton did some damage last night at the offensive end for the Mavericks. It’s obvious that teams are trying to attack Stephen Curry at the defensive end. Is that cause for concern if you’re a Warriors fan?

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No question about it, Warriors-Clippers rivalry is dead

There was a large media contingent at Warriors’ shootaround on Wednesday morning – just hours before their game against the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena. Supposedly, the rival LA Clippers.

But if the Clippers are, in fact, a big-time enemy of the Warriors why weren’t any of the Golden State players asked about them? It’s true that during a media session that included access to Stephen Curry, Festus Ezeli and Shaun Livingston at the team’s downtown Oakland practice facility, nobody asked any of them about the game against the Clippers later that night.

John Dickinson, my co-host on the “NBA This Week” on 95.7-FM The Game, was there. Not a peep about the Clips.

Reporters asked about the Warriors pursuing the Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins during the 1995-96 season, whether or not the plan was to rest any players as the season winds down, the preponderance of home games remaining, the status of Ezeli, etc. But not a thing about the Clippers.

There’s a reason for that. This ain’t a rivalry anymore. Since the LA Clippers eliminated the Warriors two years ago in the postseason’s first round – in a seven-game series in which starting center Andrew Bogut didn’t play – Golden State has flat-out owned the Clippers.

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Spurs didn’t need victory over Warriors, but it sure helps

That was a heck of a regular season game between the Warriors and Spurs on Saturday night. In the end, San Antonio got it done, beating the Warriors 87-79, but more important than the win itself for the Spurs is the tangible evidence that they can now beat the Warriors. Sure they believed it coming in, but now they know it and have proof.

Of course, the Spurs were at full strength, and the Warriors were missing Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli, but Golden State had lost only a half-dozen games coming in. You take any sliver of hope you can get against them. And the last two wins by Golden State were blowout wins. So the Spurs may have needed a little something to hold onto — even if they’d never admit it.

It wasn’t a game in which both teams are going to say they played well in, but it was a game both teams competed awfully hard in. Here are some quick thoughts about this one:

—The Spurs did a terrific job of running Stephen Curry – and Klay Thompson — off the 3-point line and rushing him just a hair when he did seem to have a split-second. Yes, Curry made the necessary adjustment and started penetrating more, where he found a lot of open terrain and room to finish at the rim.

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Ins, outs & an interview with Sam Amick about Warriors-Spurs

Another “NBA This Week” show is in the books, and today’s show was a fun one. We were joined by USA Today NBA writer Sam Amick, who is in San Antonio for tonight’s Warriors-Spurs game.

This is Biggest Game of the Year, Part II for both of these teams. The Warriors hammered the Spurs 120-90 at Oracle back on Jan. 25. The Warriors are 62-6 and the Spurs are 58-10. Enough said.

Here’s the link to the “NBA This Week” show on 95.7-FM The Game.

We touched on all the aspects of tonight’s game, so I figured I’d post this format or run-down of today’s show. This is, essentially, what John Dickinson and I come to the table with every Saturday morning:

“THE NBA THIS WEEK,” sponsored by First United Services Credit Union.

10:00-10:15: Warriors coming off another impressive offensive game on Friday – beating the Dallas Mavericks 130-112. Warriors go 22-for-38 from 3-point range. Game over. How much analysis do you need when that happens?

—All sets up tonight’s game in San Antonio: Warriors have lost 32 consecutive games in San Antonio in the regular season.

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With playoffs looming, Barnes’ struggles get more concerning

If there’s been a backdrop to this wonderful Warriors’ season it’s been this: What’s going to happen with Harrison Barnes when it’s all over? Barnes, if you don’t know, is a restricted free agent and there are questions about whether he’s part of the Warriors’ long-term future or not.

Before the season began, Barnes turned down a four-year, $64 million contract extension, a move that left many Warriors’ fans scratching their heads. How could a player such as Barnes, the fourth or fifth option, turn down that kind of money?

Barnes, of course, knew what he was doing. With the salary cap poised to jump in a big way this offseason with the influx of television money, Barnes was betting on himself. One solid season and he was going to be able to make more than that.

Problem is, Barnes’ season hasn’t been solid. It’s been barely OK. After starting out the season well, Barnes missed 16 games because of an ankle injury. In his absence, Golden State went 14-2. Fair to say, Barnes hasn’t been the same player since returning. And lately, he’s been closer to awful than good.

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Good things happening for Warriors and Speights is latest

When you win 67 games, an NBA championship, then follow that up with 60 wins in your first 66 games of the next regular season you’ve had quite a run, that’s for sure. Every once in a while you have to take a look at some numbers and realize how extraordinary they are: The Warriors are 143-26 since the start of the 2014-15 season. Unreal.

When you’re doing something that farfetched, it’s not just a few things that are going right … It’s lots and lots and lots of things going right. One of the latest examples of something going right for the Warriors is Marreese Speights.

Speights has been terrific for the Warriors in recent weeks, interjecting himself into the rotation in a big way – with, of course, some nudging because of the injury to Festus Ezeli. Nevertheless, Speights has been a potent scorer for the Warriors off the bench in Ezeli’s absence, and it’s something they’ve never really had before this stretch. When Ezeli does come back, who knows how the minutes will be divvied up among the big men, but Speights will be considered.

Speights has scored in double figures in nine of his past 16 games, compared with just seven double-figure point games in his first 40. But it’s not just that, it’s how explosive Speights has been while doing that. His past three double-figure scoring games have looked like this: 14 points in 18 minutes; 25 points in 18 minutes; 16 points in 15 minutes. That, my friends, is called scoring in a hurry.

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Warriors’ road to championship will be tougher than last season

When Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the Warriors were lucky they didn’t have to play the Spurs or Clippers during this past offseason, it obviously struck a nerve with the Golden State organization and fans.

The implication was that if the Warriors would have met either of those teams in the 2015 playoffs, Golden State might not have won the title. That sounded like sour grapes from a coach whose team melted down during the Western Conference semifinals, but nevertheless the criticism stung … and has been remembered.

Well, without addressing how hard or easy it was for the Warriors to go 16-5 in the postseason and win their first title in 40 years last year, one thing does seem apparent: Winning a title this year is going to be a lot harder than winning one last year.

Here was the Warriors’ run to the title last season: New Orleans, Memphis, Houston, Cleveland. The reality was that the Pelicans and Rockets had virtually no chance to beat the Warriors in a seven-game series, given health. The Warriors had owned both teams heading into the playoffs … had each team’s number in a big way and still do. Golden State swept last year’s season series with Houston and the Warriors entered the playoffs having beaten the Pelicans 6 of their past 7.

To further pile on, the Warriors are 2-0 vs. New Orleans this year and 3-0 vs. Houston. That’s been flat-out ownage of those teams by Golden State. Those two teams struggle to beat the Warriors in a game, let alone a series.

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Posted in Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, NBA, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Warriors | Tagged | 4 Comments