by Preston Tolliver
Last night, I made my girlfriend watch only our third game of the NBA season together. The first game was on Oct. 30 to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Miami Heat, and the other two were Golden State games. In two games (and through hearing me complain endlessly about them), she's realized that I've made it a point to put on the Warriors when I can. Last night, in the middle of the first quarter, she asked me why. Generally, my interest has been piqued primarily by my three favorite teams -- the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
My first answer was easy, that though I still have my favorites, in my age I've become more of a fan of good basketball and overtimes than I am of teams. The second took a little explaining (I'm pretty sure she'd quit listening by this time). Last night's win would push the Warriors to 13-0, marking only the fifth time in NBA history (and the first since the 2002 Dallas Mavericks) that a team had started a season so dominantly. The Warriors, I explained, are on the cusp of making history. In 13 games, they've become an enigma, a team that has defied all odds that shouldn't have been stacked against them in the first place (because, really, by now, we should accept that nothing is outside the realm of possibility for this team). In previous years, the San Antonio Spurs were the best team in the NBA, but their reliance on fundamentals made their games boring. This year, the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA, and they're fun to watch because they defy logic. Steph Curry makes shots that he shouldn't make. He, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes make passes to one another that shouldn't connect. Draymond Green blocks shots he shouldn't block. The Warriors are fun to watch because they don't make any sense.
There's been a shift in their play in their last couple of games, though, a chink in their armor. Even the Brooklyn Nets were able to push them to overtime last week, and on Thursday night the Warriors looked lost as the Los Angeles Clippers quickly built a first quarter lead. Chris Paul was doing everything right, draining threes on the way to his 18-point first quarter, while Steph Curry looked almost lackadaisical. Sure, he scored 40 points in their win last night, but he also committed seven turnovers, many of which were the result of sloppiness and inattention to the players around him, and less because of the Clippers' effort. The Warriors would come back, but it looked significantly different than their first nine or 10. Those first games, they came out stampeding through their competition; now, they're playing catch-up. Maybe they're bored. Maybe they're tired. Maybe they're human, after all.
Before their game against the Clippers last night, my friend Tim texted me about the game. My response was that, looking at Golden State's schedule, if they were going to finally lose a game, it'd be against the Clippers. Now, I think the same about their game against the Chicago Bulls tonight (which they won to go 14-0 before this could be published). They're on a back-to-back against two of the league's best teams, and while it wouldn't surprise me if they won, it wouldn't really surprise me if they didn't. After tonight, though, there schedule has them playing Denver, the Lakers, Phoenix, Sacramento, Utah, Charlotte, Toronto, Brooklyn, Indiana and Boston. Of their next 10 games, they're probably only really threatened by three of those teams, and those threats are minimal compared to what they went through against the Clippers last night, or what they'll likely go through with the Bulls tonight (again they beat them prior to this being published). Obviously, any team can have an on night or an off night, and it just takes one off night for Golden State to become vincible. At no point during this stretch should anyone be surprised if they falter and grab their first loss of the season. It's almost inevitable. No team can stay perfect forever. But they're the closest thing we've seen to perfection in a team in a long, long time. The Golden State Warriors aren't just knocking on the door of NBA history, where the Chicago Bulls' 72-10 record has stayed, safely tucked away. They're kicking it down.