Winners of eleven straight, the Golden State Warriors now find themselves at 16-2 on the season, marking the best record in the NBA. The Bay’s team is off to their best start in franchise history, matching their longest winning streak ever, and they do not appear to be slowing down any time soon.
With rankings at or near the top in most statistical categories on both sides of the ball, Steve Kerr‘s team continues to be quite a spectacle. Their starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut has statistically been the best lineup in all of basketball in both traditional and advanced stats. The insertion of both Barnes and Green have clearly been exactly what the doctor ordered.
As a team, the Warriors are ranked fifth in offensive rating at 107.1, but defensively they rank first with a rating of 94.7. They have always been able to score, but now they are doing it efficiently – led by outstanding defense and rebounding. Their transition game is exceptional thanks to Curry and Thompson’s ability to pull up for a shot from just about anywhere on the court. We saw just that in Tuesday night’s contest with the Orlando Magic when Curry stopped, popped and buried a game winning triple in transition.
The transition baskets stem from their opponents lowly 41 percent shooting and their 36.3 defensive rebounds per game – both league leading numbers. Mark Jackson instilled the toughness and defensive ability as well as the confidence to be able to play with anyone. But what Jackson couldn’t quite do was connect a stern defense with a high powered offense that fired on all cylinders. Steve Kerr has done just that and has reached a high new potential for not only the team but each individual on the roster.
Offensively, there is no standing around and rarely any iso situations outside of mismatched post ups. With a great passing big like Bogut, the Warriors have essentially been running the offense through the Aussie with cutters and shooters surrounding him. The results have been deadly for their opponents. Bogut’s 3.1 assists per game ranks third among centers. The amazing thing about watching the Warriors play, especially during their 11-game winning streak, has been the efficient execution of their game plan. The ball doesn’t ever stop moving, the cutters never stop cutting, and there is no selfish play by any single player. They have one common goal and that is to win a championship.
The lengthy Warriors were leading the league in turnovers early in the season at over 20 per game, now they are down to just over 16 per game, but must still improve. In Thursday night’s 112-85 blowout over the Pelicans, they turned the ball over just nine times. That’s exactly where they want to be. But as the season progresses, turnovers are going to make or break this team down the stretch and into the postseason. Against a team like the Spurs, Clippers, Thunder or even the Mavericks, they simply cannot turn the ball over or they will be ruined. Good teams capitalize on mistakes.
Speaking of turnovers, a big test for the Dubs will be Saturday night’s contest in Chicago against the 12-7 Bulls. With their scrappy defense they may prove to be the toughest matchup of Warriors’ recent winning streak. The Warriors have lost five straight in Chicago and their backcourt has struggled in the United Center, both posting statistical lows compared to any other arena. Over the past 35-years, Golden State is just 6-28 in Chicago. But this is a far different Golden State team from those in the past and they will look to put an end to their bad luck streak and continue with their winning ways.
Follow Rich Peters @Tricky_Roma.