Dray Day:Why the Cavs can’t emulate the Warriors championship style

dray day

Playing the Golden State Warriors means making tough choices. Last night Tyronn Lue and the Cavs decided to leave Draymond Green open coming off of pick and rolls. It didn’t work out so well. Green played like an MVP, scoring 28 points on 11-for-20 shooting, including five 3s to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Green led all scorers in the Warriors 110-77 win. We’ve been waiting for this kind of performance from Draymond for awhile now, and Cleveland basically rolled him the ball and said, “go for it.”

Kevin Love exited the game in the third quarter due to showing concussion like symptoms after taking an elbow to the head from Harrison Barnes late in the first half. Love was not having a particularly good night up to that point, his 2-for-7 shooting and lackluster defense was big part of Golden State’s big, second quarter run which swung the game from the Cavs having a six point lead to the Warriors going up by as much as 15 before the half. Love will be looked at by the league and a decision about his playing status will be made later today.

 

It’s not just Love that continues to struggle in this series, Kyrie Irving had another subpar game Sunday, shooting just 5-for-14, and generally looking lost against the Warriors defense. How many times in these Finals do you think LeBron must have thought about having Love traded in the offseason, a hundred? A thousand? How valuable would having another dependable wing that could play D and hit threes be for this Cleveland roster, especially given the way the league is moving. I’m not saying that Andrew Wiggins is definitely that guy, but he’s much closer to that guy than Kevin Love is. I’m not saying this series would be any different if you took out Kevin Love for almost any player in the NBA (except maybe Kawhi), I’m just wondering how the King is feeling right now about his decision to come back to Cleveland.

 

It is easy to forget just how dominate Golden State has been all year. The Thunder made this team look human because they had a roster full of seven footers who could cramp the Warriors open court style. The Cavaliers have been trying to combat the champs small ball style by playing small themselves, the problem being they do not have a team filled with utility players like the Warriors do. When Cleveland tries to switch every screen Golden State throws at them, their players eventually get lost in the shuffle, creating wide open threes for the deadliest shooting team the league has ever seen. This is not a recipe for success. The Warriors hit 15 of the 33 threes they attempted in game two, compared to just five threes for the Cavs. If you are going to play small against the Warriors you have to be able to maintain defensive integrity along the perimeter or you are going to get killed by the three ball. This is a lesson Cleveland is learning the hard way.

 

The right way for the Cavs to play this series is to drag out possessions on offense, pound the offensive glass, and try to keep the ball away from Steph, Klay and Dray as much as possible. This is the strategy that got Cleveland wins last year in the Finals, and as much as Tyronn Lue wants to play with pace and space, it’s what they are going to have to revert to if they want to stand any chance of a comeback this year. Cleveland does not really have the option of going big against the Warriors, Channing Frye may be a seven footer put he is not nearly quick enough to be effective defensively, and Timofey Mozgov has not seen the court a whole lot this year, to ask him to play starter minutes this far into the Finals seems kind of crazy.

 

This series is obviously not over yet, and there’s a very good chance that the Cavs could find a way to win both games at home. Role players tend to be a lot better at home than on the road, and the Cavs are going to need their bench to step up in a huge way if they want to even sniff a win from here on out. You can make an argument that Richard Jefferson was the best player on the court for Cleveland last night, his 12 points on six shots, with five rebounds, a block and a steal were incredible, but the rest of the Cavs bench scored just 18 points compared to the Warriors 33. If those numbers don’t get flipped when the series moves to Cleveland then we can all start making our summer plans now.
The Cavs are a team that tried to retrofit their roster and play style to match the champions. Against the weaker Eastern Conference teams this paid off in a big way, but now that they are walloped by their muse it’s time for some real soul searching. There is a reason why Draymond Green can play center even though he is barely 6-7”. The Warriors go small because their guards are all tall dudes with huge wingspans and incredible basketball IQ’s. Draymond Green is one of the smartest players in the league, who has a nose for where the ball is going and can also play point guard. The champs play small because they have a roster that is built to play that way, the Cavs are merely a decent forgery of a great work of art. It’s time for them to start playing ugly, slow the game down, and pray that LeBron has a couple of All Time great performances left. The Warriors are putting the finishing touches on one of the greatest seasons in the history of the game of basketball, and I’m not sure there is much the Cavaliers can do but stand by like the rest of us and enjoy the show.

Why Draymond Green’s kick is going to hurt

The big story coming out of Oklahoma City’s 133–105 thrashing of Golden State was not how excellent Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant played, or how poorly the Warriors performed, but this:

Why Draymond, why?

This low blow from Draymond Green on Steven Adams has been the center of all sports talk in the past 24 hours. The big question is whether or not the kick was intentional. Both coaches and nearly every player interviewed last night was asked, and if you follow the NBA at all you’ve probably seen a thousand takes on the subject, and for good reason.

So why is this such a big deal? The Thunder are a good enough team to thrash a fully staffed Warriors squad, let alone a team that is missing their defensive MVP. We’ve already seen the league suspend Dahntay Jones for acting a damn fool on the court, and give that Green had already went low on Adams this series, it’s a good possibility that the league will suspend Draymond for game five.

Golden State is already in a bad spot, and can ill afford to go down 3–1 to an OKC team that is playing the best basketball I’ve seen them play since their last Finals appearance. Green did not play well in game three. He missed lay-ups, turned the ball over a lot and finished the game -43 in plus/minus. To be fair, no one on the Warriors played well last night, but when Green is having a bad night it has a huge effect on the rest of the team.

Without Green the Warriors are much worse defensively, especially without his ability to defend smaller players like Westbrook and Durant off pick and rolls. They also lose one of the best passing big men in the league, and the master key in their offensive sets. As Golden State searches for answers in the coming games I suspect that one of the keys will be having Green guard Kevin Durant full time.

The Thunder have done a great job of exploiting the weaknesses of the Warriors small ball (sometimes referred to as “death lineup”) style by constantly driving to the rim and beating up Green on the glass with their athletic seven footers. They have seemingly solved the puzzle that teams around the league have been working on for almost two years. This puts Golden State in an awkward spot, they are best when they play small with Draymond Green playing center, but it’s clearly not working in this series.

Whether or not Draymond’s suspended for game four I suspect that Steve Kerr will start playing Bogut and Ezeli more minutes. Bogut was in foul trouble right off the back in game three, but his size and defense are desperately needed against this Thunder lineup. The problem with playing Bogut big minutes is that he is not fast enough to effectively help and recover and pick and rolls involving Steven Adams. Ezeli has the athleticism to hang with Adams but is not dearly as adept of an offensive player as Bogut, and the Warriors lose a lot of their potency when he is on the court.

The difference in playstyles has made this matchup a real pleasure to watch. Thunder head coach Bill Donovan has shown a deft hand in handling his player rotations in this series. He has shortened his bench, only playing seven or eight guys in any given game. He’s put a very short leash on Enes Kanter, a player who can add a lot with his size and offensive skill set but is very exploitable by the Warriors pick and roll game. Donavan has gotten Kanter out of the game every time he starts hurting the team on defense. He has also braved it out with his big lineups when Golden State has gone small, and last night that decision was key in their win.

There are going to be times when the Warriors are going to hit threes and get steals and there’s nothing you are going to be able to do about it, but the Thunder have proven that if you can hang in their on defense and keep turnovers down, you can win with superior size. Of course it helps that OKC has guys like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant who can combine for 66 points and 14 assists, but it’s the ability of the Thunder to block shots and secure defensive rebounds that has sling shot their two offensive killers into easy looks in transition.

Which brings us back to that crotch shot. The league has been put in an impossible situation here. If they chose to suspend Green and the Thunder go on to win game four and the series, they will be shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to NBA Finals ratings as well as the brand of the biggest draw in the league. If they do not suspend Green then they will be called hypocrites and have to deal with bad press for the next couple of weeks. For me the former sounds a lot worse than the latter, and I suspect that Green will not be suspended.

Either way this series is going to be even more heated as both teams desperately try to get an edge. Right now the Thunder hold home court advantage and have been the better team in the series. The onus is now on the Warriors to make the right adjustments and get back into this series. Both teams have shown an ability to blow one another out of the water. The argument being made by both coaches being played out by their teams styles is one of the more interesting strategic battles I’ve seen in a playoffs series. It’s clear now that either team could win this thing, and once we get past the distraction of “the kick tweeted around the world” we are in for some great basketball.

Round Two – Fight!

Round Two Fight!

The slow, unstoppable march of progress drags us to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The weaker teams are left dead along the road side. Among the dead are the teams that were held back by injuries, age, inexperience – or in the case of the Rocket’s – a real hatred, the likes of which I’ve only seen in Shaq and Kobe’s last year together on the Lakers.

Now we are down to eight teams: the Warriors, Trail Blazers, Thunder and Spurs in the Western Conference and Cavaliers, Hawks, Heat and Raptors in the East. There have already been a couple of games played in the Western Conference Quarter Finals. The Spurs and Warriors both easily won there games, leaving the world wondering which powerhouse looked more impressive. Let’s take a look at these Western Conference heavyweights.

The Spurs’ 124-94 victory on Saturday night was one of the more impressive playoff beat downs in the history of the game. If there ever was going to be a passing of the torch from the Spurs big three to the new blood of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, this was it. San Antonio’s young stars combined for 63 points on 28-36 shooting.

The evolution of Leonard continues to be one of the biggest stories in the NBA. In game one he was able to hold Russell Westbrook to 5-19 shooting, while also scoring 25, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists. Most players would not be able to score more than 15 points while guarding one of the leagues most aggressive guards, but Kawhi makes playing great defense look easy. This guy has already won a Finals MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year Award, he is the centerpiece of the most successful franchise of the past ten years, and by the way, he’s only 24 years old.

The Spurs played beautiful basketball Saturday night. They ran the pick-and-roll to perfection, often bring out the Thunder’s shot blockers and exploiting the lack of defense at the rim. They were also able to utilize LeMarcus Aldridge better than I thought was possible. Aldridge was unstoppable both in the post against Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka and coming off of picks in the high post. Playing in a system in which the players are looking to pass coming off of picks, Aldridge is the kind of versatile weapon that makes the Spurs unstoppable when he is playing well.

There are no easy answers for the Thunder going into tonight’s game. They absolutely need Durant and Westbrook to play better, but it’s up to Billy Donovan to find better shots for his two superstars, and Donovan has not shown himself to be very good at making game-to-game adjustments. They got by last round by Durant making tough shots, but the Spurs are not a team that you can just brute force your way through.

The other problem Oklahoma City will have to figure out is how to get Enes Kanter enough minutes to get his points without being a total disaster on defense. Nothing excites Greg Popavich more than having an easily exploitable big man on the court. Having Kanter have to play the pick and roll against the likes of Aldridge or Diaw is like throwing a chum out to the sharks.

I don’t see this series ending in a sweep, and there will probably not be another 30 point blowout in this series, but the flaws that San Antonio exposed on Saturday Night are fatal for Oklahoma City, and there is no throwing a bandaid on them. It’s going to take legendary performances out of Durant and Westrbook for the Thunder to win this series. If this is the last time we see the most dynamic duo in the NBA play together, let’s hope they go out fighting.
While the Spurs performance in game one was utter domination, the Warriors showed in their 118-106 over the Trail Blazers that they are only getting better. In the context of a team that won 73 games in the regulars season, that has to terrify the rest of the NBA.

We still don’t have a solid timeline as to when Steph Curry will return to play. In his interview during the game Curry seemed optimistic that he would at least be a game-time decision for Saturday’s game three.

We are starting to see Draymond Green become the ultimate point-forward, being able to set up the offense and get his teammates the ball where they are most lethal. Green had another triple double in game one, scoring 23 points to go along with 12 rebounds and 11 assists. With Draymond taking more of play making role in the Warriors offense, Steph Curry will be able to get more open looks coming off of screens and off of weak side action. This is going to be a huge theme if/when Curry gets matched up with the likes of Kawhi Leaonard next round.

Green also continues to be the master key that allows Golden State to play any style of basketball they see fit. Draymond is so adept at switching onto smaller players in the pick-and-roll that it can completely gum up an opposing teams offense. There was a possession yesterday in which Green switched on to Lillard off a pick and roll, stayed step for step with his man on the drive, then switches back onto the man he was originally defending to contest his shot. This all happens in flow of the game so seamlessly that you have to watch it multiple times to truly appreciate what Green is doing.

Green has mentioned his true joy as a defender is locking down bigger players in the post. He completely destroyed Mason Plumlee yesterday, holding the Trail Blazers big man to one point on 0-7 shooting. This play is pretty good representation of how Green treated Plumlee all game.

You can’t talk about the Warriors win in game one without mentioning how brilliance of Klay Thompson. Much like Kawhi Leonard, Thompson is asked to both defend the opposing teams best perimeter player as well as be the engine that drives his team’s offense. Of all the players who have benefited from Curry’s absence I think Thompson has improved the most. We all know that Klay is a dangerous spot-up shooter, but in game one the lone splash brother was making shots off the dribble both from range and at the rim. he finished the game with 37 points, shooting 50 percent from the field and from deep. He drained seven three pointers, many of which were contested and a few were shot from ranges that would even make Curry blush.

The defending champs are playing incredible basketball right now without their best player. The defense that has been come-and-go in the regular season has turned up a notch in these first playoff games. The Trail Blazers will not win a game this series if they can not free up Dame and CJ who were a combined 13-43 from the field in game one. The Warriors are not good enough to win a title without Stephen Curry, but they will be a better team because of this stretch of games without the MVP. The only real flaw I see with this team is what happens when they have to play guys like Ian Clark and Brandon Rush for extended minutes, but that problem solves itself if-and-when Curry gets back on the court.


I want to leave everyone with a lasting image of Paul George, who was the best player of the first round. His team may not yet ready to be a true contender but PG is absolutely talented enough to be the best player on a championship squad. Here is George throwing down a 360 dunk in the midst of the Pacers 101-83 loss to the Raptors. It was an audacious dunk, and while some will probably argue that it was disrespectful, I loved it. George thanked the fans of Toronto on Twitter after the game for being awesome. He is a stand-up guy. But sometimes you have to let the people know that you are not to be trifled with. I tip my hat to you Paul George, you have earned all of my respect this postseason.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking more about the Cleveland Cavaliers and their seemingly inevitable run to the NBA Finals. Tonight Cleveland plays Atlanta at home in game one of their series and the Spurs look to go up 2-0 on Oklahoma City. Enjoy the games everybody!

Warriors put Rockets out of their misery

At least it was a quick death.

The Warriors were not concerned with who was or was not playing in their 114-81 embarrassing of the Houston Rockets.

The champs shot close to 55 percent from the field and hit 11 of their 19 three point attempts. They had 30 assists to only 9 turnovers. I’m not sure there has ever been a team that can so brutally destroy a team when they smell blood in the water.

Golden State outscored Houston 37-20 in the first quarter, and the lead quickly jumped to 30 points in the second half which is where it stayed. What we watched tonight was a team hungry to prove they can compete for a title no matter who was their starting point guard. On the other side of the court was a team that looked relieved that their long nightmare of a season was finally coming to an end.

Shaun Livingston found himself wide open under the basket for easy layups. Livingston scored 16 points in 28 minutes, and only turned the ball over once. His play has been exactly what the Warriors have needed out of him in Curry’s absence. Both Livingston and Kerr seem to know exactly what is needed out of the veteran for this offense to keep firing on all cylinders.

In what seems like a preview for what we will see in the next series, Draymond Green was running the offense a majority of the time he was on the the court. Green almost had a triple double scoring 15 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing out 8 assists tonight. He finished the game with a plus/minus of +32 in the 31 minutes he was on the court, a number will probably not be reached again for a long, long while.

The player who looked like he was having the most fun out there tonight was Klay Thompson. The lone splash brother had the hot hand, shooting 7-11 from three in a 27 point in 29 minute performance. There was no better time to get Thompson’s confidence up than tonight, and Klay was shooting – and making – shots from ranges that are usually reserved for Steph.

James harden was the only Rockets player to hit a field goal in the period, scoring. Harden scored 25 points on 8-12 attempts in what was the only highlight of Houston’s first half. He finished the game with 35 points on 12-23 shooting.

In what was an odd move that could easily be seen as a FU from Rockets Coach, JB Bickerstaff to Dwight Howard, the Houston big man played over 45 minutes in the blow out. Howard was 3-13 from the field, scoring just 8 points even though he played much of the second half against the likes of Anderson Verejao and Maurice Speights.

I’m not a huge fan of criticizing head coaches in the NBA, but Bickerstaff is not up to the task of coaching an professional team. He has no control over what happens on the court, and his rotations have been horrible since he took over the team. An argument could be made that no coach would have been capable of effectively leading this group of players, but Bickerstaff failed at the basic player management, and play calling that you would expect out of a top level high school coach.

Much like the Clippers, I see the Rockets completely blowing up this team in the offseason. There is about a zero percent chance that Dwight Howard remains on this team. He and James Harden have the on court chemistry of Donald Trump and the Republican establishment.

The obvious move is to get Dwight Howard out of town as soon as possible, but given the way he has been maligned over the last few years I pity the team that thinks they can get real value of the past-his-prime center.

For a team that supposed to be built around James Harden, and his ability to drive the lane and get people wide open looks from beyond the arch, there sure weren’t a lot of players who could make standing threes on this roster. I think Harden is still very much a top five player in this league, and if he has the right players around him I think he could be the best player on a championship squad. His flaws, especially on defense are glaring, but surround him with smart defenders who can also hit open shots and you have the makings of a title team – IF – and I can’t make that if any more pronounced, Harden is as motivated as he was in last years MVP caliber season.

Up next for the Warriors will either be the Portland Trail Blazers or the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite putting up a good fight for a half the mash unit that are the Clips went down to the Blazers 108-98 to go up 3-2 in the series. The dup of Lillard and McCollum scored 49 points. Mason Plumlee added 13 points and 15 rebounds to the win.

Portland will have a shot at closing out the series at home Friday Night and if they do so will get their crack at the defending champions. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Golden State did beat Portland five out of the seven times they played in the regular season. I would love to see how well Klay and Iggy could match up with Lillard and McCollum, but that is a conversation for another day.

Tonight the champions did what you would expect out of a 73-9 team, they delivered a knock out punch to a team that visibly teetering on the brink. Even without Steph on the court their offense was a marvel to behold tonight. Even if Houston was willing to dig in their heels and try to take one more game of the Warriors, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. The Rockets laziness was defeated play was the difference of this being a 15 point win for Golden State or the 33 embarrassment it ended up being.

I’m sure there will not be a whole lot of celebration in the warriors locker room tonight. They know that the real challenge begins next week. This is a team that looks ready to stare down any foe that is put in front of them.

Rockets best Curry-less Warriors

We did it everybody!

It took the MVP sitting out of a road game, but we finally got a fun game out of round one of the NBA Playoffs!

James Harden played one of his best games of the season, and hit a beautiful step back jumper to give the Rockets a one point lead with seconds to play.

On the ensuing inbound Draymond Green fumbled a pass off of his leg and the Rockets took Game 3, 97-96.

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The Beard broke out all of his old tricks last night, driving into the lane with full intentions of either getting fouled or making a pass to wide open teammate.  Harden finished the night with 35 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. He got to the free throw line five times and made 9-11 shots from the stripe.

Dwight Howard had a dominant first half for the Rockets, getting himself into great post up position on many possessions, and was a force coming of pick-and-rolls. There are moments when Howard still looks like the All World Center that he was five years ago, but he spent much of the second half as an afterthought on offense, and had to be pulled when Golden State started to play Hack-A-Howard late in the game.

The Warriors were struggling to come up with consistent offense, Klay Thompson and Green both struggled with their games. Klay only shot 7-20 from the field and Green finished the game with 7 turnovers and struggled with his shot as well.

Maurice Speights was the best player for Golden State Thursday night, his 22 points were what kept the champs in the game. He was even able to extend past his regular mid-game range, making three of six three point attempts.

Ian Clark also made some great plays down the stretch for the Warriors, Steve Kerr has shown a lot of faith in the rookie this year and it paid dividends last night. Clark hit a couple of layups late in the contest, including one that put Golden State up one point before Harden’s heroics.

It took every last bit of fight for the Rockets to hold of the Warriors. To be honest, I didn’t think this team had that much fight left in them. When Harden and Howard are both playing hard this is still a tough out for any team in the league.

The question now becomes how bad is Curry’s ankle really bothering him? It has been an easy decision to keep Steph out of these games given the Warriors have been cruising to wins, but now that Houston has a win will Steve Kerr push to have the MVP back in game four?

My hunch is that Curry will sit in the next game if he is still feeling considerable pain, and is not able to play at close to 100%. The Warriors had an off game in almost every metric and were still one shot away from winning Game Three. There’s no need for the World Champs to put there best player at risk.


OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 131 – DALLAS MAVERICKS 102

All of the usual suspects showed up for the Thunder last night. Westbrook started the game off by getting his teammates involved (15 AST) and became more of a scorer late (26 PTS). Durant came out shooting early and often, and did a good job of getting to the foul line. He finished the night with 34 points, with nine points coming from the FT line. The Thunder got excellent production from their role players; with Ibaka, Kanter and Waiters combining for 56 points.

TORONTO RAPTORS 101 – INDIANA PACERS 85

With the minutes restriction lifted off of DeMare Carroll, the Raptors super utility man flourished. Carroll played stifling defense on Paul George, holding the All Star to only 6-19 shooting. He was also a factor on offense, scoring 17 points in 35 minutes. DeMar DeRozan had a a comeback game of sorts, scoring 21 points, getting to the foul line plenty and playing more like his regular self. Kyle Lowry had another strong game scoring 21 points and dishing out 8 assists. I’m becoming more and more of a fan of Corey Joseph whose play off the bench for Toronto has been outstanding, he finished last night with 10 points, 4 assists, and a steal in 24 solid minutes of play.

Golden State Gift Guide

Good afternoon! I hope that everyone is having a happy Serial Season 2 Release Day! It’s taken all of my willpower to keep from listening, but with the long hours of holiday driving right around the corner it is important to remember what the true purpose of Serial is – to keep loved ones sane after driving back from their umpteenth Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus party.

Speaking of the Holidays, there are few presents I want under my tree more than watching an undefeated Warriors team put their streak on the line against the Cavs in Cleveland on Christmas day. Golden State, as you may have heard, is 23-0 as of this writing. This run is already the single greatest in the history of America’s big four professional sports, and is almost unfathomable for a team that is coming off a championship run.

The stats for this current Warriors streak speak for itself. Golden State is scoring a league high 115.8 points per game, with a point differential of +14.6. That’s a jaw dropping 3.4 points higher than the second place San Antonio Spurs. They also lead the league in three point percentage and assists per game. Their Net Rating of 16.3 is the highest I’ve ever seen. Which is all to say that there has never been a team quite like this year’s Warriors. To watch them play during this current streak is like watching a big cat play with its prey.

It seems like anytime a team is able to keep the game close going into the fourth quarter Golden State is able to unleash their version of the Kracken –  a small ball lineup that features Draymond Green at center, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes at forward, and the Splash Brothers.  This lineup has the best +/- in the league, and is currently shooting an otherworldly 63.6% from the field and (I had to double check this) 62.5% from three. The NBA has never seen a lineup as unguardable as this.

Then there’s the question of Stephen Curry, and what do we make of this season that he is having. When you watch a lot of basketball it’s easy to become jaded by everyday greatness. LeBron James has been the best basketball player on Earth for around a decade, and somehow his current stat line of 26/7/7 seems almost pedestrian, because we’ve seen him dominate for such a long time. It’s human nature to take things for granted. That’s why I feel like it’s important to keep reminding people that what Steph is doing this season deserves to be treated like the marvel it is.

Curry is averaging 32 points per game this year with a shooting line of 53/46/90. His current PER of 34.7 is on pace to demolish Michael Jordan’s current record of 27.91. His .700 True Shooting percentage is so far ahead of historical records it almost makes the stat seem obsolete. That’s what Steph is doing right now, he’s making the entire league look like a flip phone and he’s the iPhone 7. He’s having the kind of season that destroys comparison. Michael Jordan in his prime could never fathom shooting the way Curry does, or playing as efficiently. He wouldn’t know how even if he wanted to try. This may be my favorite thing about the current Curry era. It feels like the death nail in the “next Jordan” quest. When you talk to kids who love basketball, they no longer want to be like Mike, they want to dribble and shoot like Curry.

There are other teams around the league that are trying to emulate what the Warriors are currently doing, but you cannot emulate a style that relies on the skills of a Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. I find it really interesting that the Spurs, a team whose space and pace style of the last few years was a huge inspiration for the current Warriors juggernaut, have zigged where everyone seems to be zagging. San Antonio is currently leading the league in points against (88.7) as well as three point percentage allowed (.309).  They are averaging the fourth lowest possessions per game at 95.7, which is a far cry from the past couple of years. Coach Pop knows that you can’t beat the Warriors at their own game, and is quietly forming an immovable object to counter Golden State’s unstoppable force. I’m already salivating for a potential Western Conference Finals between these two teams.

Ankle sprains to both Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson will pose the biggest challenge to the Warriors streak for a league record 33 straight wins. Barnes is expected to miss the next couple of games, and Klay will be a gametime decision when Golden State goes into Boston on Friday to play an increasingly frisky Celtics squad. If the Warriors can get out of Boston with a win they their schedule sets up almost perfectly for a Christmas showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in what will be one of the most hyped Christmas games in years.

Even if the Warriors streak ends on Friday in Boston, it does not lessen what is happening this year in the Bay Area. I don’t think there has ever been a team that has played the game so close to perfection when it comes to sheer aesthetic beauty and cold blooded efficiency. There is no statistic that can capture the excitement of Stephen Curry going NBA Jam for a quarter, or watching Draymond Green lead a fast break flanked by four deadly three point shooters. This is basketball of the highest order. Every game this team plays feels like a gift from the basketball Gods.