(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Weekly Dish
by Brian Witt
The All-Star break comes at a good time, but not before reflecting on the great success the Warriors have had so far this season.
For the week of Monday, Feb. 13 – Sunday, Feb. 19
The long, arduous journey through the regular season is more than halfway over, and in a few days, the Warriors will finally reach the All-Star break. Granted, some of the players on the team won’t have as much of a ‘break’ as others, but in general, the week off in between games comes at a great time, especially for a roster currently dealing with injuries to a few veterans. It’s also a nice reward for the first 50-plus games of the 2016-17 campaign, in which Golden State has placed itself at the front of the NBA pack.
Coming into last week, the Warriors had a daunting task ahead of them: three opponents who – at the time – ranked in the top-10 in the NBA in defensive rating. Well, as has been the case quite often this season, the Dubs passed the test with flying colors.
Golden State didn’t just find a way to beat the Bulls, Grizzlies and Thunder in a span of four days. They flipped the script on the matchups, utilizing their potent offense to add three more decisive victories to their season-long total. First, they ran past the Bulls to the tune of a 123-92 win on Wednesday, notching their eighth victory by at least 30-points this season. That’s the highest total of 30-point victories in any full season since the 1987-88 Celtics also had eight, and the only other team in NBA history to record at least eight such wins before the All-Star break was the 1971-72 Bucks. Some members of those two legendary squads? Well, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, just to name a few.
Decent company, I suppose.
Following Wednesday’s victory, the Dubs headed out on the road and took down the Grizzlies and Thunder by 15 and 16 points, respectively, on consecutive nights. That sequence improved the Warriors to 19-3 in back-to-back games this season (10-1 in the first game and 9-2 in the second game). The victory in Memphis also set a league record as it was the Warriors’ 237th win in their last 300 games, surpassing the previous record of 236 set by the Showtime Lakers of the late 80’s and the Jordan-led Bulls of the late 90’s. Yes, 300 games is the equivalent of approximately 3.65 NBA seasons, but it goes to show the prolonged success the Warriors have experienced in recent years, and it is a significant accomplishment.
In total, Golden State compiled an offensive rating of 123.4 and a defensive rating of 100.8 over the course of their three games last week, meaning they outscored their opponent by an average of 22.6 points per 100 possessions per game. To place that in context, the Warriors possess the NBA’s top net rating on the season at plus-12.9 points per 100 possessions, which is a full 4.1 points per 100 possessions better than the second-best team (San Antonio).
The continuation of what has basically been a season-long offensive surge has pushed the Warriors’ offense to historic heights. Not only do they lead the league in offensive rating, team field goal percentage and points and assists per game, but the efficiency with which they are scoring is unparalleled. Their effective field goal percentage (eFG%) – which adjusts for the fact that a three-point field goal is worth more than a two-pointer – of 57.2 percent is the highest in NBA history, topping their own mark of 56.3 percent set just last season.
With two games remaining before the All-Star break, the Warriors have assured themselves of the top record in the league at the season’s unofficial midway point. The race for the playoffs and the jousting for positioning will commence as soon as play resumes following the break, but come this weekend, sit back, relax and take a moment to appreciate the tremendous performance Golden State has put forth thus far this season.
Standout Spotlight: Draymond Green
While the focus has been on the team’s offense, and deservedly so, there’s no question who has been the key cog in the Warriors’ second-ranked defense. Draymond Green will play in his second-straight All-Star Game on Sunday, and his performance in Memphis proved exactly why. In a season that has made triple-doubles seem commonplace – there have already been 66 in the NBA this season, well on pace to break the league record – Green accomplished something on Friday night that had never been done before in NBA history.
With 12 rebounds, 10 assists and a career-high 10 steals in that win over the Grizzlies, Green became the first and only player in league history to record a triple-double without utilizing the points category.
"We had a lot of great individual performances,” said Steve Kerr following the game. “But that's as dominant of a performance as I've ever seen from somebody who scored four points."
Dominant, indeed. His 10 steals set a new franchise record and were only one off the all-time NBA record set by Kendall Gill in 1999. His accomplishment didn’t even factor in the five blocks he produced as well, further magnifying the all-around impact he had in that victory.
Traditionally, there isn’t a ton of defense to be played in the annual All-Star Game, but that won’t stop Green from standing out. In a game featuring the stars of the league, he belongs on that court as much as anyone.
The Week Ahead:
Just two games lie between the Warriors and the All-Star break, and they’ll get the first one out of the way tonight as they attempt to close out an undefeated road trip in Denver. The Warriors and Nuggets are the only two teams in the league to rank in the top-10 in points, rebounds and assists per game (in fact, they both rank in the top-six in all three categories), and Monday’s game would represent a first round playoff preview if the postseason began today. Following their trip to Denver, the Warriors will return home for their final game before the break, in which they’ll attempt to avenge their most recent loss when they host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. With Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – as well as Golden State’s coaching staff – participating in events throughout All-Star Weekend, it won’t be a full week-long respite for those involved, but that’s what happens when you have the kind of success the Warriors have had so far this season.