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The Weekly Dish
by Brian Witt
Five games in ten days. That’s all that lies in between the Warriors and the playoff run they’ve been building towards all season long.
For the week of Tuesday, Mar. 31 – Monday, Apr. 6
Five games in ten days. That’s all that lies in between the Warriors and the playoff run they’ve been building towards all season long. Now, with home court advantage locked up throughout the entire postseason, the Dubs have clinched just about everything there is to clinch in a regular season, and all that remains is to navigate to its finish line. The most important thing at this point is to enter the playoffs with a roster fully healthy and intact, but Steve Kerr also knows that it would be asking for trouble to get off track in these final five games in exchange for the guaranteed safety of his players. Surely he’ll monitor their minutes more closely and you won’t see the starters playing upwards of 40 minutes in any of the remaining contests, but Kerr has found success utilizing all the elements of his team’s depth thus far this season, and in all likelihood he’ll continue to rely on that strategy in this final stretch run.
With three consecutive victories to begin last week, the Warriors stretched their win streak to 12 games, the second-longest winning streak in franchise history, trailing only the 16-game streak the Dubs put together earlier this season. While each streak is impressive in its own right, the fact that a storied franchise like that of Golden State had never experienced one to that degree in its previous 68 years of existence speaks to just how dominant this year’s version of the Warriors have been. Undetermined playoff success aside, almost every piece of evidence suggests this is the best team in franchise history, and they’ve proven that time in and time out throughout the last 77 games. The streak was brought to an end in San Antonio on Sunday afternoon in a matchup that could quite possibly have been a playoff preview, depending on how the standings shake out. The defending champs proved they’re still the same formidable squad that dispatched the Heat in the Finals a year ago, and despite the loss, it could be seen as a good thing for the Warriors to be reminded that they’re not necessarily alone at the top. In any case, one defeat does not undo the entirety of their success that preceded it, and after going 18-3 since the beginning of March, the Dubs are nearing yet another historic benchmark. Never before has a 50-win team improved by at least 14 more victories the following season, which is exactly what the Warriors would accomplish upon winning two more games. With five games left on the slate, including a four-game homestand to close out the regular season, chances are pretty good the Dubs will add that to the list of season superlatives.
Standout Spotlight: Stephen Curry
It may not have been quite as impressive as the previous week in which he earned his second Player of the Week accolade of the season, but then again, even an average week for Stephen Curry is better than most others’. In the four games last week, Curry posted averages of 22.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 31.8 minutes, while shooting 47.0 percent from the field and 51.6 percent from three-point range (on 7.8 attempts per game). His success from long range was a continuation of a longer stretch in which Curry has simply been other-worldly from beyond the arc. Over the last nine games, he’s gone 43-of-75 from three-point range, an amazing 57.3 percent on 8.3 treys per game! With 263 splashes on the year, Curry needs 10 more threes to break his own single season record set back in 2012-13, and as we know, he’s quite capable of accomplishing that task in a single game alone. Also, when combined with Klay Thompson’s 219 made-threes on the season, the Splash Brothers need only three more treys to set the record for most three-pointers by teammates in NBA history. For the record – no pun intended- they already own the top-three combined performances in league history, and while they may not lay claim to every single three-point mark at this point, it might not be long before they do.
The Week Ahead:
The best part about the week ahead? No more back-to-backs for the rest of the 2014-15 season. The Warriors will have one day off before all of their remaining games, the first of which comes in New Orleans on Tuesday night. Not only will it be the Dubs’ final road game of the season, it’s also a potential first round playoff preview, as the Pelicans sit a mere half-game behind Oklahoma City for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. After that, the Warriors will return to Oracle for the first two games of a four-game homestand to round out the week. The Blazers come to town on Thursday, followed by a visit from the Timberwolves on Saturday night. It’s been a long time since the last two weeks of the season held this little relevance to the Warriors’ ultimate regular season finish, which is exactly what every franchise strives for, as odd as it sounds. While other teams duke it out to secure playoff berths and positioning, the Warriors can approach their final five games with the confidence and security of knowing that they’ve accomplished all they can at this point. The playoffs will be here soon enough, and until then, it’s time to enjoy the absence of chaos that comes with a 10-game lead atop the conference.
The Dish has been served.
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