The Warriors are the defending champions in the NBA, but for most of the season’s early going, it’s been hard to tell.
On Saturday against the Celtics, it was obvious. Golden State controlled the game for 48 minutes and humbled a streaking Boston team, considered by most NBA observers to be the league’s best, and won going away, 123-107.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson led the way for the Warriors, scoring 66 combined points. Jordan Poole had 20, starting for the injured Andrew Wiggins. But every player was involved and showed supreme effort, most notably on defense, as the Celtics shot just 36.8 percent in the second half and 43. 7 percent overall.
After the game, Curry said the win gave his squad a blueprint for the season ahead, starting with Golden State’s upcoming road trip.
“It just gives you the recipe on intensity and focus you have to have to beat a team like that,” Curry said. “And then knowing how hard it is to win on the road. … So (we need) for everybody to understand, again, their role, when they’re gonna be in the game, who they’ll be playing with, the defensive intensity that we need to give ourselves a chance — knowing we haven’t been able to sustain that level in these first 27 games.
“So we want to feel good about ourselves, get on the plane and go on to these five cities and four cities and five games are figuring out how to really take advantage of the opportunity in front of us.”The Athletic
Curry says the win provided a “recipe on intensity and focus” needed to beat the NBA’s best. While it may seem that the Warriors (14-13) would already have that recipe, given they won it all last year, this season’s team is different than the 2021-22 title-winning squad.
The main characters have returned, and the Warriors starting lineup is the NBA’s most productive. But the role players are different, as is the all-important second unit. In the win vs. Boston, young swingmen Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody played vital roles, especially in the absence of Wiggins. Veteran guard Donte DiVincenzo also showed newfound intensity and focus on par with Golden State’s proven champions.
Coach Steve Kerr could feel a shift, too. He told reporters postgame: “I like where we are headed. The guys off the bench are starting to play and assume their roles. Our defense seems to be getting better. All that points in a good direction.”
But in the NBA, each test is followed by another until a champion is crowned. For Golden State, the upcoming road trip awaits, and they can put their new blueprint to the test. Because while it may have been hard to tell early this season, the Warriors intend to build yet another championship team and add even further to their legacy.