Home has never sounded better for the Golden State Warriors.
Losers of 10 of their last 13, the W’s find themselves five games back of the 5th seed Denver Nuggets and only a half game up on the 7th seed Utah Jazz with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers within striking distance as well. This is a scary place for the W’s, who have only reached the playoffs twice in the last 20 years. I have said all season long that they do not want to be hovering around that 7th and 8th seed during the final stretch of the season, as there are far too many teams that can rip their heart out. Namely the Lakers, who still have Golden State’s number.
During the Warriors five game road trip there was a plethora of emotions. Extreme highs, such as Steph Curry’s career high 54 point outburst in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, and extreme lows, such as the Warriors blowing a 16 point lead to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. They showed signs of passion and fight against the Indiana Pacers, and they showed signs of carelessness and disinterest against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics. This recent road trip has summed up the second half of this Warriors season.
Now with only 22 regular season games remaining, where can this young, talented, exciting, yet inconsistent Warriors squad go from here? Luckily for them, they are about to kick off a desperately needed seven game homestand against some fairly beatable teams. However, nothing comes easy in the NBA and the W’s will need David Lee to start playing like an All-Star again. Since the All-Star break, Lee’s points, assists, and field goal percentage have all dropped. Part of the reason is that coach Mark Jackson hasn’t been able to run the offense through Lee like he was earlier in the season. With the latest absence of the often injured Andrew Bogut, David Lee has been overmatched and worn down defensively by opposing bigs. When Bogut returns he will spell Lee and help the offense run much smoother. The most important aspect to the Warriors offense is the backcourt play of Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack in late game situations. These two players are the engine that keeps the Warriors running. At times the late game duo looks brilliant and can play with the best of them, but lately they haven’t been clicking on all cylinders. There is too much isolation and standing around. There are times when Curry, who has recently emerged to be their star, needs to take more control of the ball, rather than Jack running isolation after isolation and not playing team basketball. This has become a major problem for the Warriors during the second half. What once was a team of defense, passing, and hustle is now a team of stagnancy.
All in all, 16 of their remaining 22 games will be in front of their home Oracle Arena crowd where the Warriors are 18-7. Their favorable schedule and remarkable first half play could be just enough to squeak into the postseason for the first time since the “We Believe” team of 2007.
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