It may just be a regular season game, but the Golden State Warriors are making a serious statement that all roads to the NBA championship still lead to them.
NBA fans like me waited for the highly-anticipated clash between the Warriors and the Spurs this season. Both teams would have been a great playoff matchup but it never really materialized last season as the Warriors and the Spurs took different routes in the post season.
To my surprise, Golden State just stepped on the gas offensively to end the game shooting 51.8 percent, while holding the equally red-hot San Antonio squad to just 41.9 percent from the floor.
The scoreboard showed a one-sided result: 120-90 as Golden State improved to a league-best 41-4, on pace for the Chicago Bulls’ all-time regular season best record of 72-10, which Michael Jordan and Co. established in 1995-1996.
The Spurs remain second-best at the moment with their 38-7 card, their 13-game winning streak ending on Tuesday (Monday night in the US), though San Antonio is still off to its best start in franchise history.
Reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry supplied some really serious answers to nagging questions on whether Golden State could really measure up to a San Antonio side that has beaten the Warriors 13 of the last 16 times.
Curry sizzled with 37 points in just 28 minutes, using the picks of his teammates to create space for his shots, leading to baskets inside and from beyond the arc.
He finished the game with six three-point shots made–all done in a matter of three quarters, before resting in the final period when the game was beyond doubt.
I chatted with Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who just over a week ago, was able to watch a Warriors game when they hosted the Miami Heat coached by Fil-American Erik Spoelstra.
Said Cone: “They (Warriors) are no doubt playing a different type of game. I was watching Steph Curry against the Heat and I was saying to myself, ‘Wow! The Heat were defending him well because I thought (Goran) Dragic and (TJ) Johnson were really just forcing him to do something he didn’t want to do.’ But then I remember he hit a three-point shot midway through the third quarter and I looked up at the scoreboard thinking, maybe that was his eighth or ninth point and he had like 27 points. Where the heck did the 27 points come from? He looks like he’s not trying that hard and it just comes so easy for him, the whole team is that way.”
The PBA’s all-time winning coach said as long as Golden State remains a healthy bunch, it is capable of dominating the league this season, while picking San Antonio as the possible threat to the Warriors’ back-to-back championship aspirations.
“You can never judge in the middle of the season because too many things can go wrong,” he said.
“You get an injury and maybe (Andrew) Bogut gets injured and suddenly, they’re gonna be a doughnut team. They are fine and they can play small ball but they still need Bogut because they can’t play small ball for 48 minutes,” Cone added.
“They can play in doses (without a big man) but they need to have that big guy there who can control the middle because he’s (Bogut) such a greater screener and passer. Another one of those guys who is really instinctive and can find weakness on defense.”
“So if they stay healthy the whole time, there’s really no team who can challenge them except for the Spurs. They have a shot at it.”
Well, at least in the two teams’ first regular season clash, Golden State came out with a resounding win.
Should they meet in the Playoffs this season (barring any freak accident like what the Spurs experienced last season against the LA Clippers last year), we’ll be able to see if the Warriors can make that great leap by beating one of the NBA’s best teams this past decade.