Preview: Warriors hit the road again, Green still on the shelf; Porter gets night off
Golden State gets a struggling Rockets team, but no update on Draymond Green's back yet
A moment, if you please, for the San Francisco 49ers. A team that was great - truly great - throughout my entire childhood. And now? Tragic Bronson. They just got bumped from the NFL playoff and are almost certainly out looking for a new quarterback. At least our snacks were good!
On the basketball front, the Golden State Warriors have successfully concluded their homecoming, going 6-1 against some tough teams while playing without their full arsenal of talent.
Speaking of which: there was no update on Draymond Green’s status. Yesterday marked the prescribed two week window of the injury. This could mean something, or nothing… but one thing is for sure: Green isn’t coming back today.
At time of writing, Nemanja Bjelica has been upgraded to questionable, but Otto Porter is getting a scheduled rest day, indicating that he’ll be available for tomorrow’s back-to-back against the San Antonio Spurs.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (37-13) at Houston Rockets (14-35)
WHEN: Monday, January 31st, 2022 // 5pm PDT
The defense is holding up
With both Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala out until further notice, it’s a wonder that the Warriors’ defense is holding up as well as it has. That’s great news, because not only is Green not returning today, that phrasing on the update isn’t exactly promising. With a new doctor check up “early” this week, the timing of Green’s return doesn’t appear to be imminent — at least, not on the team’s announced two week timeline as initially announced.
But the lack of urgency may actually be good news, viewed from the right perspective. That perspective is that Golden State currently has the luxury to not rush Green back. Some of that lack of urgency is due to the final goal for this team. Aiming for the post season as this roster is, the higher priority is ensuring that Green is ready towards the end of the campaign.
That freedom to not mind his absence now is thanks in large part to the team’s ability to remain elite defensively.
Much of it is internal improvement. Though he got a lot of press for it early in the season, the defensive improvements of Stephen Curry have been huge. But he’s not out there alone. The Warriors have prioritized defense and basketball IQ in the previous offseason, and whether it’s personnel, philosophical emphasis, or (more likely) a combination of both, it’s working.
Though players have been in and out of the lineup, Golden State has managed to thrive anyways.
Andrew Wiggins buying in and fitting in so well to the two-way Wiggs lifestyle wouldn’t happen if not for a deep pool of resources. Guys like Andre Iguodala showing up on the bench in street clothes but staying engaged and talking players through issues, or the loud voice of Draymond Green echoing in the back of their brain like some sort of angry, defensively-focused emotional echo.
Golden State has a reputation because of their flashy offensive firepower, but this is - and has always been - a team that understands the important of playing both sides of the court.
Steph Curry (5 of 18) and Klay Thompson (5 of 14) couldn’t find their shots last game, but the Warriors are balanced enough that that’s not a fatal flaw. Much like turnovers, Golden State has found victory often enough that these flaws cannot be considered as an Achilles heel. Curry is on a historic (for him) cold streak, and the team is still winning… without Green and Iguodala.
The Splash Bros start splashing again, and the team gets healthy, and this is a dangerous team — a team that knows it can still win at a high level at partial strength, if needed. It’s been needed a bit too often this season, but hey, it builds character. Grit. Belief.
Houston is rebuilding
One game after playing James Harden’s new team, Golden State is about to get a close look at what’s left of his old one in Houston. It’s not much. The Rockets are one of the worst teams in the NBA, managing a meager 14 wins, third in the Tankathon race.
They’ve dropped seven of their last ten games, and despite some kind words recently from Draymond Green, the franchise is adrift, hoping the tide will eventually bring them to shore. Right now though, it’s just a leaky boat.
It’s the front end of a back-to-back, so the goal here isn’t so much a win (which should be eminently achievable), but to demolish them early and take it easy. This season hasn’t exactly gone to plan, but the the results have been hard to fault.
Dubs got this.