Every time the Golden State Warriors lose, it seems like the Internet goes insane, and the rest of the NBA’s fanbases are throwing a party. When they win, however, it’s business as usual, which makes some of their more impressive stretches go unnoticed.
At 37-6, the Warriors once again have the best record in the NBA, and look like the best team in the league without too much competition, although these things change come playoff time. They lead the league in both offensive and defensive rating, for those who were worried about how their defense will adjust to Kevin Durant and the absence of Andrew Bogut. After their one-point loss to the Cavaliers on Christmas they went on a four-game winning streak. After their collapse against the Memphis Grizzlies, their only loss in January so far, the Warriors have six in a row. Who they’ve beat and by how much is more important.
They’ve played three games this week. One against the NBA champions and best in the East Cleveland Cavaliers. Another against the furious Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. And the third on the road against the Houston Rockets, the third best team in the West. The Warriors came out on top in all three games, winning on average by 24.3 points. Their 17-point win over the Rockets was their closest game in this stretch.
At home, even against the Cavaliers, it’s not surprising the game was a blowout. The Warriors were out for revenge. For the Kyrie Irving game winner, for the jokes on social media, for the Halloween party, for the NBA finals. It was a tour de force, a demonstration of power and abilities, just in case the Cavaliers forgot who the most loaded team in the NBA is.
Next up, the Thunder. That game was close for more than a half. A lot of games against the Warriors are, until their afterburners kick in. One thing worth noting in my opinion: I don’t understand the NBA’s scheduling in this case. It’s one thing to make the first game between the two teams in Golden State despite the much bigger meaning it has in Oklahoma City. But playing the first two games in the Bay Area kinda takes the sting out of what could have been very special. Yes, Kevin Durant will still get a hot-as-hell welcome in OKC, but it’s not the same after the Warriors manhandled the Thunder twice.
As for the Rockets: As fun as they might be under Mike D’Antoni, even their huge win against the Warriors in December doesn’t change the fact that Golden State has dominated this team in the postseason two years in a row, twice going 4-1 in the series against Houston. Better shooting and a more responsible James Harden make a difference compared to last season, but in the matchup between the two teams the Rockets continue to look outgunned and overwhelmed on most days. What happened last month was the exception. The Warriors are on a semi-historic pace once again, and their ability to avoid collapses will determine how close they come to matching last season’s win total, not what their opponents do.