First a little programming note: I will not be at today’s Warriors practice in Orlando. The Dubs practice at 12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m. Pacific) and my morning flight from Cleveland to Orlando has been cancelled. I won’t make it to Orlando until the late afternoon at the earliest. So hopefully nothing groundbreaking comes out of that central Florida work out today.
Let’s rewind to last night. That first half was ugly for the Warriors, with the notable except being the hot-shooting of Stephen Curry. He was on fire, scoring 24 of his 29 points on 8 of 11 shooting, including 5 of 5 from beyond the arc. But everything else didn’t look good.
David Lee had goose eggs (0 points, 0 rebounds in 10 minutes of foul-plagued action) and the Cavs had 64 points. As Draymond Green said, “You can’t give up 64 points to anyone … any team.”
Coach Mark Jackson preaches that his team wins with defense and that style of basketball “travels,” meaning they shouldn’t be affected too much by playing on the road. That theory was looking like it might get tested. And let’s be honest, a loss to Cleveland to open this seven-game road trip would’ve been a huge step back.
But the defense showed up in the second half.
“We knew we had to come out and play more physical and turn the defensive intensity up in the second half and we were able to do that,” Green said.
Draymond had a fabulous game. He only scored five points, but both buckets gave the Warriors the lead and he had career highs of 12 rebounds and four blocks. Green, Harrison Barnes and Mo Speights are giving the Warriors some solid production off the bench finally. As Green pointed out, they are finally settling into their bench roles. Injuries had forced different guys into the starting lineup and limited the Warriors depth, but with the starting five all healthy, they are in a position for those three key bench guys to develop and get used to their roles. That seems to be happening.
The Warriors know that this is a part of their schedule to fatten up their record. It may be a grueling seven-game trip, but it comes against the Eastern Conference where wins are to be had. Cleveland is now 10-20, Orlando is also 10-20 and so is Brooklyn, the team they close the trip with. They’ll also face Milwaukee, the NBA”s worst team at 6-24.
Yes, the games with Miami (23-7), Atlanta (17-14) and even possibly Washington (13-14) will be tough, but a 5-2 or 6-1 road trip isn’t out of the question. With the winning streak at five games, it would be a nice time to get on a roll.
Green might’ve said it best: :The games you’re supposed to win, you have to win. We felt this was a game we’re supposed to win so it’s key for us to come in and get a win. It wasn’t quite in the fashion we wanted to do it, but one thing we’ve talked about is showing some resolve when things aren’t going our way, continue to fight and don’t let go of the rope.”
Now if I can just find my way to Orlando we’ll see if the Warriors can get their sixth straight victory.