The Golden State Warriors appear to be getting their act together just in time as the season is headed for the final stretch. Golden State, (39-24) who is coming off of a 111-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, has won three straight games and is 8-2 in their last 10 games.
A full strength, full squad Warriors team combined with a new and improved second unit have been the keys to their recent surge. Steve Blake, who the Warriors acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline, has been a tremendous boost for the bench. Since joining Golden State, Blake has a combined 32 assists and just five turnovers over nine games. His stability is exactly what the Warriors second unit was missing.
The bench play of Jordan Crawford has also elevated since the addition of Blake. Crawford now has the ability to play off of the ball, rather than before when he has to run the offense. Crawford’s scoring numbers have improved and the combination of him and Harrison Barnes now makes for a solid scoring duo off of the bench.
Barnes struggled early in the year attempting to create his own shot because defenses collapsed on him, knowing that he was the only scoring threat. But now that they have brought in Blake and Crawford via trade, the second unit made up of them plus Barnes, the always active Draymond Green and the rejuvenated Jermaine O’neal has been solid and it has given the starters the ability to get more rest.
As for the starting unit, Stephen Curry has continued his stellar play, averaging 21.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists over the last month while shooting nearly 50 percent. But he has not done it alone, his Splash Brother Klay Thompson is beginning to regain form. He scored 25 points, including a game winner on Tuesday night in Indiana. His numbers had dipped every month during the season, but so far March has seen a rebound in terms of his production. Golden State needs Thompson to return to last season’s form in order to take some of the pressure off of Curry.
But most importantly, the return of a healthy Andrew Bogut and David Lee alongside Andre Iguodala have stabilized the Warriors defense and team rebounding, allowing them to get their act back together. When the Warriors defend to their ability, it leads to them pushing the ball and getting transition baskets. When the Warriors do this, as they did in last season’s playoffs, they are deadly.
The Warriors appear to be getting their act together and hitting their stride at the perfect time as they head into the final stretch of the regular season. A healthy Golden State team has the ability to defeat anyone, as they have proven over the past two seasons. They now find themselves just four games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the battle of the Pacific Division and appear to have enough in them to make at run at the division title as well as a top four seed in the conference. Golden State must keep their foot on the gas pedal as the regular season finish line is in sight.
Opinion by Rich Peters
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