If Golden State feels pressure to keep winning streak going, it sure isn't showing
POSTED: Dec 6, 2015 11:14 PM ET
NEW YORK — This is where the fun starts.
With just about two minutes remaining in the third quarter, and the Golden State Warriors' 21-game win streak on the line, the Brooklyn Nets are clinging to a two-point lead, 76-74, at the Barclays Center.
By their own impossibly high standards, the Warriors have played mostly uninspired basketball so far. After a 9-0 Golden State run to start the game and a strong first quarter, the greatest show on earth seems to have fallen to earth with a thud, allowing the Nets to grab a second-half lead.
And then ... don't blink, because all of this next stuff happens really fast:
• Stephen Curry hits a runner going across the lane, to tie it at 76.
• Curry hits a 3.
• Curry hits a layup, gets fouled and makes the free throw.
• And then, just before the end of the quarter, Curry drills another 3.
"It's pretty purposeful, just trying to see if I can get some room and figure out a way to impact the game," Curry later said of his scoring binge. "And things started to click."
We're never out of a game, and we're always one little run away from putting a game away. We know that, and that's why we constantly encourage our guys to be on the attack.
– Warriors acting coach Luke Walton
No kidding. All told, Curry rained 11 points in just under two minutes. By the time the quarter ended, Golden State was up 87-80 and the game was more than in control. Behind 28 from Curry, the Warriors went on to win 114-98, leaving them atop the NBA with a 22-0 record.
"It's one of our greatest strengths," Warriors acting coach Luke Walton said after the game. "We're never out of a game, and we're always one little run away from putting a game away. We know that, and that's why we constantly encourage our guys to be on the attack."
Not only are the Warriors winning unabated right now, they're doing it in incredibly entertaining ways. Improbable shots that regularly drop. Behind-the-back saves of balls going out of bounds. Tapping unreachable rebounds to teammates. Flinging the ball around the perimeter until it finds an open player. They constantly seem to have a man slipping behind the defense, never stop pushing the tempo. And always, they celebrate in unison on the bench.
"It's like a dream," says Marreese Speights. "Coming off the championship, there's no hangover for us, so we're just coming out every night, getting everybody's best and still coming out on top. Every guy on the team loves that feeling of a ring and wants another one, so every guy works every day. When we have off days, everybody is in the gym. We've got a good bond like that."
If I shoot it in the moment, I think it's a good shot and I have confidence in it and I expect to make it. So that's the approach I have every time I shoot.
– Stephen Curry
For all the complaints about how modern NBA athletes fill up the court, the Warriors somehow manage to make the floor feel spacious, creating acres of room to operate. And for fans in an NBA arena, there is perhaps no experience more visceral than when Curry has the ball. Curry only needs a sliver of light to get a shot off, and when he finds that space, a roar of conflicting sounds rises from the crowd: anticipation, fear, excitement; anger. Curry somehow engages his supporters and detractors equally, generating simultaneous head nods and shakes with diametrically opposed meanings, all from the same play.
"If I shoot it in the moment," Curry says, "I think it's a good shot and I have confidence in it and I expect to make it. So that's the approach I have every time I shoot. And I will live with the results whether I miss and coach shakes his head, or I make it and everybody claps for me."
Right now the Warriors are the most fun team to watch in the NBA, if not in all of professional sports. The shooting, the scoring, the ball movement, the defense, the versatility -- it is all singular to this team, and as long as it's not your team they're doing that thing they do to, it's almost guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.
"When we're doing it right, it's fun," says Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. "For me, perfection is fun. I'm a perfectionist, so it's a gift and a curse for me -- I don't enjoy it like I should. But the end result is fun."
How much longer will it go on? The Warriors have three more games on this road trip before returning to Oakland for a five-game homestand. While it seems like it could go on like this forever, there will surely come a night where Curry can't find the spark, or Draymond Green is in foul trouble, or some other mundane detail that gets left unattended, and leaves the Warriors with their first loss. Right?
"Our guys don't want this first loss," Walton said, "so we keep constantly bringing it. The bigger the stage gets, I'll keep saying it, the better our guys play."
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.