The Golden State Warriors recently dominated what was thought to be their main competition. On Monday, the San Antonio Spurs gave up 120 points to the NBA leaders and lost by 30. Yesterday, the Warriors tagged the Dallas Mavericks for 127 points, and won by a fairly convincing 20. The Mavericks had handed Golden State one of just four losses earlier in the year. Out of the 8 quarters in those two games, the Warriors won 7. All but the second quarter against Dallas was theirs, and they only lost it by two points. It didn’t matter much as they won the first and third quarters by a combined 20 points. Both games were as good as over heading into the fourth quarter.
So what makes Golden State so dominant? Is it a particular player? Is it a strategy? Obviously these play roles, but to me it’s the cumulation of several years of preparation. It’s the team culture that’s putting them over the edge.
San Antonio, Dallas, Cleveland, Oklahoma, and the Raptors, have all built up their lineups and obviously have good tactics, but that’s not enough on its own. The difference between the Warriors and the Raptors against the rest of the NBA is in the culture. I include Toronto in this because it’s helped them make a big turnaround this year more so than the other teams. Each NBA team, even the bottom feeders, are capable of stringing together steaks of solid minutes. But they can’t sustain them. That’s what makes them bad. Call me captain obvious. Here comes the “you have to play 48 minutes” cliche. Wrong. I don’t believe that. Teams win all the time without playing their best on a consistent basis. That’s what makes teams like the 2015-2016 Warriors and Raptors so fun to watch. They have the belief now that they can turn it off and on whenever they want to or need to. When they make mistakes, other teams have to stick to their plans. Other teams don’t have the complete faith in each other to mix things up on instinct to adapt to a situation that’s presented itself. Much like a quarterback that doesn’t have the confidence to call an audible with 8 seconds left on the play clock, a lot of the situations of vulnerability go unexploited. On the flip side, both Golden State and Toronto are on the other end of the spectrum. Their team unity and identity has allowed everyone to have the confidence to take what’s given to them, almost all the time. It’s not always the same guy scoring the same way. They can beat all the teams almost all the time because they don’t have to worry about each team’s X’s and O’s and execute a specific game plan. That’s hard to do long term. Instead they play an aggressive, reactionary game that only comes from faith and unity.
You can’t defend that, especially over a seven game series. I really don’t see how Golden State doesn’t win it all this year, and I hope to see the Raptors play an exciting Conference Finals that will be too close to call.