It wasn’t that long ago when the Warriors weren’t expected to beat any opponent whatsoever.
Times have clearly changed. Three championships during the last recently ended decade altered expectations, especially with star guard Stephen Curry back after missing almost all of last season with a broken wrist.
And though star guard Klay Thompson is injured, Curry still has fellow champion and All-Star Draymond Green alongside for the ride. Expectations are a playoff-birth, despite a new roster that’s building chemistry. And to do that, Golden State must win the games they’re expected to win, namely contests against lowly ball-clubs, much like the Warriors were before Curry came to the Bay Area.
And according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Curry’s crew is performing well when presented with such a challenge, with it’s latest triumph coming Saturday night in a lopsided win against the Pistons at Chase Center, sweeping the season series with Detroit.
They did beat the Lakers the other day, but the Pistons are still 5-15, ahead of only the Wizards in the East.
That’s the type of opponent this Warriors team must beat, especially at home, on a near-automatic basis if they’re going to make the playoffs. And that’s exactly what the Warriors are doing. They’ve now played eight games against below .500 teams and they’re 7-1 in them, handling the Pistons twice, the Timberwolves twice and the Kings, Bulls and Raptors once each.The Athletic
That 7-1 record against below .500 teams is very encouraging for the Warriors’ chances in 2021. The first two such wins of the season, against the Pistons and Bulls, were perhaps most impressive. The Warriors were without Green and coming off two brutal losses to the Nets and Bucks to open the season.
But the Warriors took care of business, first beating the Bulls on a last-second shot from guard Damion Lee, then finding a groove for the first time against these same Pistons in the game that followed. Those wins put the Warriors’ record at 2-2 and were essential for the psyche of the team, which was uncertain of its capabilities at the time after being humbled the two previous games.
Here’s what Curry said, per Slater, after the most recent win against the Pistons, perhaps recalling that early batch of games, which were all on the road.
“Ahh,” Curry said. “They always say you gotta win the games you’re supposed to win. That’s helped us cure some of the bad vibes coming off tough losses. We’ve had a pretty tough schedule early.”
As long as Golden State maintains this trend, it should make the playoffs. That should be a given for a team with Curry, but not to be taken for granted for a franchise that used to be the team that opponents circled as an easy win. My, how times have changed.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)