Game 36 rewind: Warriors keep beating teams they should beat, extend streak

I’m going to start this one with a quick observation. This past week or so has been my first experience covering the NBA. Before this, it was mostly college football, a little NFL and MLB and before that high schools. I’ve quickly realized one thing about the NBA: it’s the only sport in which players openly talk about teams they “should beat.” I’ve heard that plenty of times now in the past couple weeks. “This is a game we should win”…”this is a team we should beat”..and so on and so.

And really it’s probably the only sport you can say that about. Baseball is a crapshoot dependent upon how good the starting pitcher is that particular day. There are definitely some football games with predetermined outcomes (think when the 49ers played the Jaguars this year), but you’ll never hear a football player take another team lightly. I’d venture it’s the same with hockey. But in hoops, when a team has superior talent, they know it and know the teams they should beat.

The Wizards were one of those teams for the Warriors (as are all the teams on this trip not named the Miami Heat). It may have taken until halftime for them to fully realize it, but once it sank in, the Warriors took care of business. I like the perspective that Andrew Bogut delivered.

“We know we’re not going to win every game. Our streak’s going to come to an end. But tonight was a game — we spoke about it at halftime — ‘Once we play the Clippers and OKC and those teams, don’t let this one become a factor down at the end of the season.’ This was a game that was very winnable on the road for us — we’ve been on the road for it feels like eternity — we didn’t want to let one slip.”

Perfect mentality. The Warriors will lose games, but lose games to good teams and not to bad ones. That’s, for the most part, what the Warriors have done this year. They are 7-9 against teams .500 or above and 16-4 against below .500 teams. And they are now tied for first place.

I mentioned this in the game story but it’s worth mentioning again. When Chris Paul out for up to six weeks, the Warriors must take advantage. Build a little lead in the division. Take a three or four game advantage. The Warriors haven’t won a division title since the 1975-76 season — before any current players were born. The opportunity is there. It’s time to seize it.

What’s at stake in the final two games of this trip? For one, they can record the best road trip in team history and match the best in NBA history by going 7-0 if they can beat Milwaukee and Brooklyn. The Bucks are terrible, the worst team in the NBA. It’s Bogut’s first time playing back in Milwaukee so he should be juiced. That should most definitely be a W. Brooklyn has won two in a row to follow up a stretch of losing six of seven — although three of those losses came to Indiana and San Antonio. A 7-0 trip is definitely possible and if it happens, it would give the Warriors 11 straight wins to match a franchise record set Dec. 1971-Jan. 1972. That’s taking care of business.

Well, it’s time for me to leave you. Carl Steward’s vacation is over so he’ll join the team in frigid Milwaukee (high today is minus-11). He’ll take you through the next four games and I’ll fly back to the Bay Area later this afternoon…hopefully (United has already said my flight is overbooked. Should be a fun day at the airport with all these cancelations.) See ya!


Jimmy Durkin

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

  • Howard Benner

    All the pieces on the GSW roster have finally embraced their roles &, with the return to health of ‘Dre Igudola & Steph Curry, plus Marise Speights rounding into shape (I will never get why a professional athlete wouldn’t consider the health & condition of their body the most important marketing tool in their arsenal. In Speight’s case it isn’t like he was playing on a playoff team & needed the offseason to rest & ‘retool. . .” and his “condition issues” are well documented, dating all the way back to his days in college. He had to know the W’s prefer an up tempo style that requires an emphasis on conditioning. . .) said roles have become more readily defined. sure, a backup point guard not named “Dre Igudola is still a necessity. But the W’s seem to realize the mindset required of an elite team. The defense, more than any component needs to be accentuated & more consistent intensity has to replace the tendency to “coast” for periods of time (as well as internal toughness. . .) but, as we approach the “dog days (the January through early March portion of the NBA schedule)” of the season it is time to “make hay” & distance themselves from the crowd. Certainly the question marks that exist in abundance for their fellow Pacific Division rivals & the “downturns” for other Western Conference foes edict the W’s improving their fortunes. . .Portland, among others are starting to exhibit their flaws & are starting to teeter upon their current lofty positions. . .it’s a marathon & not a sprint, as they say. . .