Monday, February 1, 2016

Treading Warriors

Sunday night's blase mid-season contest between the walking in place New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors, who play at pace which no one would confuse with the word slow, a seemingly innocuous pummeling by the team on the left (coast that is) to the team on the right, is continuing to provide on a nightly basis evidence for which, just how much the mercury needs to travel in the opposite direction for teams competing (and much less hoping to compete) with the championship-defending Warriors.

On their way to another of the routine patented "plus-fifteen" beatings they've been handing to the rest of The Association (Yes San Antonio Spurs that includes you, Tim Duncan or not), a 116-95 systematic dismantling of the recently revamped Knicks machine of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and company, a mundane 1st quarter, was followed up by the kind of quarter you would expect from a team which has taught us to forget about the kinds of things you should expect, at least when it comes to a basketball team. The Warriors converted 14 of the 17 field goals they attempted, for a whopping 82% for the quarter. They attempted four 3-point shots, and were flawless in that area as well as they missed not one. The only area of the court in which they had a minor hiccup with during that period was the charity stripe as they went 5-7, for a modest 71%. Maybe the most telling stat of the quarter would probably have to be Stephen Curry "only" playing seven minutes, with the Warriors relying on the four-headed monster of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, and Harrison Barnes for the bulk of the minutes. Just for thought: Usually a team's "one-two punch" are it's leading two scorers, however the Warriors third scorer may actually be the "two" in the aforementioned punch. A luxury no championship-level team that I can think of in recent memory employs. Numbers and percentages don't tell you the whole story when it comes to this team. They really do not.

The question was asked of Knicks head coach Derek Fisher immediately following the game during the press conference held in the bowels of the World Greatest Arena, an arena whose world's greatest fans had just witnessed the world's greatest team, how a game like this one highlights their need for a second scorer. "Tonight [as opposed to other nights?]" or something to that degree was the reply. A thinly-veiled incredulous response to a reporter's misguided query to a game he obviously may not have really been paying  attention to.

And it happens; to the best of us even. You witness this efficient of an offensive machine every bit as productive as the greatest teams of all time: the 1927 Yankees, the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s, and you begin to forget the fuel which creates the fire currently burning up the hardwood at an arena near you. Defense. This was not a game that was going to be decided upon whether Anthony would find help from another source, whether expected or unexpected. Rather, and Fisher painfully knows this is the reason, it was a game decided by which team would play the better defense, generally speaking the recipe for success in the NBA and in most sports for that matter.

And don't get it fooled. Despite the ability to put up iconic second quarter numbers the Warriors know how to defend. On a championship level. But more importantly. As it pertains to a team such as the Golden State Warriors, their adversary better have the wherewithal to sum up the funds to pay for the kind(s) of defense it takes to stop this team. For they come at you in waves. Yes, basketball is a game of runs, which, are waves in and of itself. The kind of waves that come at you when you play the Warriors however are the waves of a different sort. They are the type of waves a team, any team, much less a team like the Knicks, who are still finding their way, drown in. The Association could use a lifeboat right about now. Alot of arenas are underwater.