Thursday, 19 November 2015

Should the Warriors be satisfied with success?

Nobody cares about the Golden State Warriors' problems. Good luck griping to other fans about how, while the Warriors are 12-0 after beating the Toronto Raptors 115-110, it wasn't the cleanest of victories. Good luck sounding alarms about their lackluster third-quarter defense, abundance of fouling, and occasionally sloppy offense against a strong East squad. The Warriors won, as they do, though the victories aren't quite as commanding as they recently were.So, what does it mean when Golden State wins without playing its best? Is this team great enough that it should be graded on a curve that sees imperfections in "undefeated"? To hear them tell it, yes.
On assessing the team's performance, do-everything forward Draymond Green said, "I wouldn't say a great job. I think we made the necessary plays we needed to make to win the game. Obviously we can close the game out a lot better than we did. It should have never really gotten to the point that it got to. So I wouldn't say we did a good job at all." That was the general tenor in the Warriors locker room. They did what was needed but not necessarily what was up to their standards. Stephen Curry, who scored a cool 37 points with nine assists, sounded like a man more fixated on his seven turnovers."We can play better and that's what we're focused on," he said. "There's a lot of talent in this league and no matter if you play your best game, your B game, your C game, just to get a win is important in this league, so we're happy about that. Got to clean some stuff up in the second half, with a couple turnovers, made it a little too easy for them in the third quarter, getting where they wanted to go on the floor. So, we'll look at that, but, 12 and 0."If the Warriors acted like a five-point win wasn't enough, it might have something to do with having been up 18 in the second quarter. The Warriors were humming, ruthlessly converting defense to offense. In most games, they have these sequences when time seems fast-forwarded. The defense quickly forces mistakes and the offense runs short fast breaks that need only get a few strides past half court. The scoreboard chronicles something your senses can barely track. Games should go 48 minutes, but the Warriors regularly end them quickly.Golden State had such a sequence in the second quarter on Tuesday. That was, before the Raptors came back to life in a manner no less surprising and convoluted than the reanimation of dinosaurs via amber-sealed mosquitoes. Slowly, a blowout begat a nail-biter.What does it mean? It probably means this team is capable of dominant play, but that it's not quite peaking at the moment. Golden State is great, but right now, a little bit Curry dependent on offense. As an example, according to ESPN Stats & Information, in the just over eight minutes Curry was off the floor, the Warriors were outscored by five and had more turnovers (five) than made field goals (four). Klay Thompson, who had a brilliant first half before tailing off in the second, continues to look not quite like his old self.There are other imperfections, too, and the Warriors will probably obsess over those. LeBron James certainly respects their effort, from across the conference divide. On Tuesday, after a loss to Detroit, James said, "We didn't win anything. We lost. We lost in the Finals. So that's enough motivation for myself. I think we need to understand that. Like, we lost in the Finals. We didn't win. And the team that beat us looks more hungry than we are. So it shouldn't be that way."That hunger is evidenced by Curry's exacting analysis of a loss: "We didn't put any pressure on them in the third quarter. We were sloppy on a couple possessions, offensively and gave them life. So, those are things we need to improve on.

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