5

Game 35 rewind: Warriors wake up in time to remain perfect on road trip

The Warriors and I had something in common on Friday. We both missed our alarm clock. Mine didn’t go off in the morning, I overslept by an hour and had to book to make my flight from Miami to Atlanta. The Warriors also missed their alarm. For three and a half quarters, it looked like they might still mentally be in Miami.

Despite a great early start — they hit seven of their first eight shots — the Warriors quickly fell asleep and starting digging a deep hole. Luckily, the Hawks weren’t exactly lighting it up either, but the game was slowly slipping out of hand. When Atlanta led by 15 with 6:48 to go, I began drafting the story of the Warriors’ winning streak ending in an almost expected fashion — losing to the Hawks on a back-to-back fresh off the emotional win.

Then the Warriors showed why they have potential to be great. Great teams win back-to-backs even after high-energy victories like the one in South Beach. Great teams go on double-digit win streaks, which the Warriors are now just two wins away from. Great teams win games when there’s no reason to believe they should. Are the Warriors great? Time will tell, but they have that potential.

Andre Iguodala, the subject of my off day story that will hit the web later today, continued to show why he was such a great pickup. The guy spent 34 minutes guarding LeBron James the night before, did almost nothing for three quarters, then came up big when it mattered most. It wasn’t just the 3-pointer to win. He had the steal to set up the layup that gave the Warriors the brief 96-95 lead.

The bench played a lot in this game, and not particularly well. I know there was some hand-wringing from folks about the squad that was out on the court for a lot of the game. But on a long trip like this, especially when you hit your first back-to-back, you need games like that. You need to let the bench get their minutes and hope they don’t let the game slip out of control. In all honesty, it looked like they had let the game slip away. Although when Atlanta pushed the lead to 15, the Warriors had their starters in.

But Golden State took the mindset of getting one stop at a time — I mean, that’s all you can do really — and finally started pestering the Hawks. They had to play a near-perfect final 6:48 and that’s what they did and got the big reward, thanks to Iguodala.

At 4-0 on the trip, the Warriors are near the point of playing with house money. A 5-2 trip was what I thought was the minimum they’d like to go and at this point they can achieve that with just one win in the final three games. Of course, matching the 6-1 trip from last year would be great and considering the opponents left (Washington, Milwaukee, Brooklyn), 7-0 is in play. Brooklyn is playing better now and that’s the final game before heading home and on a back-to-back, so that one looks like a tough one. But the Warriors should be Washington and Milwaukee. If they do, they’ll have a chance to be the first team to ever go undefeated on a 7-game road trip.

I’ll catch up with you in DC, my last stop on this trip before Carl Steward joins the team in Milwaukee. I believe he flies in there Monday, where the forcasted high is minus-12. Enjoy Carl!

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.