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The Weekly Dish
by Brian Witt
With three more victories this past week over Houston, Sacramento and Boston, the Warriors became the ninth team in NBA history to win at least 36 of its first 42 games.
For the week of Tuesday, Jan. 20 – Sunday, Jan. 25
With three more victories this past week over Houston, Sacramento and Boston, the Warriors became the ninth team in NBA history to win at least 36 of its first 42 games, extending their franchise-best home winning streak to a whopping 19 games in the process. They’ve won 13 of 14 games since Christmas and averaged 118.7 points per game over that span. Their net rating of plus-13.3 points per 100 possessions is at its highest mark since the first week of the season, and is matched by only the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) in the last 38 years. So what could possibly be going wrong? It turns out these dominant Dubs are no different than the rest of us common folk. They get bored too.
Following Sunday night’s closer-than-it-should-have-been win (at least on paper) over the Celtics, Stephen Curry explained the Warriors now have to deal with a challenge he’s never experienced in his time with the franchise: the “challenge of not getting bored with winning.” While those comments could come off as brash or arrogant when taken out of context, anybody who has spent a minute with the Dubs’ All-Star point guard knows that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Curry wasn’t complaining that winning no longer has the same redeeming feel; he’s pushing his team, as the leader of it, to not settle for what they’ve accomplished thus far. He’s motivating them to continue to get better, to not lose sight of what they’re capable of, because if they make it to that point, they have an opportunity to attain a feeling they could never grow bored of.
At 30 games above .500 and only one game into the second half of the season, it’s long past the time when a playoff berth was atop the Warriors’ sequential list of goals. They’re striving for something greater than that, and considering how they’ve played up to this point, they should be. Here in what Steve Kerr likes to refer to as the “dog days” of the season, the Warriors coach remains focused on continual improvement, so that when the time comes, the Dubs will be ready to play their best basketball when the situation demands it. Regardless of their opponent, the Warriors are now playing against their own standards, and the higher they’re set, the harder they’ll have to work to meet them. That’s exactly what Curry, Kerr and the rest of the Dubs want, which is the attitude they need to have to in order to accomplish what they believe they should.
Standout Spotlight: Klay Thompson
Choosing Thompson for this spot was about as effortless as his shooting motion appears. That’s what happens when you do something that’s never been accomplished in the history of the NBA, and when there’s typically several players worthy of this selection, I appreciate him making it easy on me. Thompson’s 37-point barrage in the third quarter of Friday’s victory over the Kings was the most spectacular occurrence the league has seen in quite some time. To go 11-for-11 from the field, including 9-for-9 from three-point range and 2-for-2 from the free throw line, in a span of only nine minutes and 39 seconds is something that borders on the supernatural. I mean, humans just aren’t supposed to be able to do that. While it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone will eventually eclipse Thompson’s 37-point mark, to do so without missing a shot from the field seems like one of those records that may never be broken. It was an incendiary display the likes of which the league has never seen, and one that will live on in Warriors’ lore amongst the greatest individual performances in franchise history. After that amazing quarter on his way to a career-high 52 points, it came of no surprise when Thompson was selected as the Western Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season. He averaged 33.0 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.25 steals in just 29.8 minutes, hitting 56.4 percent from the field (44-of-78) and 55.3 percent from three-point range (21-of-38) with a league-high 5.3 threes per game. Thompson becomes the first player in Warriors history to win the weekly award three times in a single season and is the only Western Conference player to earn the accolade on three occasions in 2014-15.
The Week Ahead:
With a 12-1 record so far in January, the Warriors have followed through on their stated desire of dominating at home and have a chance to blow past their most wins in any month this season (13 – November) with three games left before the calendar flips to February. First up is a highly anticipated encounter with the Bulls as Chicago comes into town on Tuesday night. Draymond Green scored a career-high 31 points in the Dubs’ 112-102 win in Chicago back on December 6, but with a lineup featuring Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, the Bulls offer as tough a test as any team out there. Following the Bulls, the Warriors will have two days off before playing in Utah and back at Oracle on back-to-back nights. The Dubs will travel to Salt Lake for the second time in less than three weeks to take on the Jazz on Friday night, then return home to face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. That’s two good opponents and one tough road environment to close out the month, but if the Warriors can take care of business, they’ll have given themselves a big boost heading into February, a month in which they’ll play all but two games on the road.
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