After ripping apart their biggest rivals on the way to a second NBA championship in a row, turns out the Golden State Warriors do have a weakness. It’s called playing against terrible (although not too much lately) teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, needing a super clutch 3-pointer from Harrison Barnes to lift them to another victory.
Steve Kerr, never one who uses too harsh a word, in his own way ripped apart his team, basically saying they weren’t taking the game seriously from the point they led by 24 points. When the goal is perfection or as close to it as you can get, there aren’t any days off. The whole point of an 82-game NBA season is mental and physical rests here and there, but even after beating the Cavaliers by 34 points and the Spurs by 30, it seems that Kerr, who is hungry for basketball after missing half the season due to surgery, is hungry to see his team do better than they did in a sloppy finish against the 76ers.
With the game about to go to overtime, Stephen Curry passed the ball inside to Draymond Green who find a relatively open Harrison Barnes just beyond the arc, hitting the game winning shot with 0.2 seconds left, just as the Sixers were dreaming of overtime and maybe winning for the 8th time this season. Their 15-2 run put the game tied at 105-105 with 22.3 seconds to go, but for the Warriors, even on a bad finish, it was enough to improve to 43-4, winning for the fifth time in a row.
One interesting thing about the Warriors right now is how popular they are. Bandwagon fans or not, they got plenty of cheers from the Philadelphia crowd, who do cheer for others more than any other fanbase in the NBA during these drought-filled years in which tanking is the word most associated with their team. Maybe things will change once the wins start coming. For now, Curry making circus shots got louder cheers than another excellent game (by his and the Sixers own standards) from Ish Smith.
It was once again Klay Thompson who led the charge for the Warriors with 32 points, scoring 77 in the last two games. It once again raises the question of him possibly being better than Curry, but it really doesn’t matter. This doesn’t seem to be a team preoccupied with internal ego battles about hypothetical player rankings. There’s the right combination of hierarchy and creative freedom to keep everyone satisfied, at least while the team is winning.
Curry scored 23 points and Draymond Green, maybe the best barometer for this team, had an interesting night. He was one assist shy of the triple double (scoring 9 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but he also turned the ball over 7 times, partially explaining the hot & cold Warriors in the second half). The Warriors lost the ball 23 times (7 for Curry, 5 for Thompson) although the Sixers scored only 20 points off of those.
In the reality they’ve crafted in a season and a half, with two losses in three games being the closest thing to a crisis they got, the Warriors give the feeling of possibly being fragile once again by winning only with a last second three-pointer. With a team that uses any excuse to find motivation and run all over teams, their next game against the New York Knicks, with a day of rest to think about their mistakes, doesn’t bode well for their opponents.