It is amazing how late in the season the "dog days" have hit the Warriors. There are currently 22 games left in the season, and it is clear there is a bit of a malaise surrounding the team. They are not playing poorly by any stretch of the imagination, but the defensive intensity has not been there recently (and for most of the season) and the sharp offensive execution the Warriors displayed a few weeks before the All-Star break has dissipated.
The Warriors cannot relax too much, however, as Denver is right on their heels for the top seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets have the best record at home in the NBA, so you can expect them to make every effort possible to secure home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs. It'll be up to the Warriors to find that focus again that makes them so lethal.
Moving on ... with every Warriors Outsiders show, we do a simulcast on Facebook Live. Here are some questions and comments that we didn’t get to address from the last couple shows.
Kristoffer Earl Dizon: Boogie looked great out there. Great movement, bounce in his step.
He sure did, AFTER the first quarter. DeMarcus had been struggling with his confidence entering the game in Charlotte, and his first-quarter performance did not help him in that regard. He was slow on defense, unable to keep his man in front of him on high ball screens or pick and rolls.
In an attempt to counter that, he started sagging off a little too far into the paint, stranding himself in a defensive no-man's land. His defensive assignment, Cody Zeller, finished with 12 points in the quarter on perfect shooting. On the offensive end, he struggled to create any separation at the rim, making it difficult to finish down low and make plays. The game seemed destined to be yet another contest in which Boogie would leave the arena frustrated.
But credit to DeMarcus, he bounced back in a big way. In the second quarter alone, Cousins finished with 11 points, making all five of his shots including one from long range, four rebounds, an assist, a steal, a block and was a team-best +10 in the plus/minus. His legs looked fresh and his determination to turn the corner was very apparent. From that point on, Cousins played with a fiery and confident disposition.
He finished with a season-high 24 points and his fourth straight game of double-digit rebounds. Did he come away from the game feeling more confident?
Well, according to Cousins he was "more happy about [playing a season-high 31 minutes] than the actual game." He followed with, "I’ll make sure I give Steve a big hug." It is all about conditioning for Boogie right now, and he feels like when he gets his wind and legs back, the results will follow.
Yna Duque: Comment on the shoe tech.
Yna is, of course, referring to the technical foul that Cousins received for tossing the opposing players' errant shoe from the middle of the court and into the stands. It was very obvious that Cousins was attempting to clear the shoe from the game as a safety precaution. But the NBA does have rules that regulate players from tossing objects towards fans.
Sure enough, the technical foul was later rescinded on Tuesday afternoon.
Jeff Roco: It was a nice game yesterday for the Santa Cruz Warriors
Indeed. The Sea Dubs played their annual game at Oracle Arena and they did not disappoint the fans. Two-way guard Damion Lee finished with 26 points, and Kendrick Nunn and Darius Morris finished with 21 points each. Nunn is a player to keep an eye on, as he is a lethal scorer, constantly attacking the defense. He finished second in the NCAA in scoring behind Trae Young last season, and he has picked up where he left off in the G-League, averaging nearly 20 points per game and seemingly destined for a role as a score-first, instant-offense type player off an NBA bench.
The Santa Cruz squad has the best record in the G-League (28-11), and a lot of credit is due to head coach Aaron Miles, his staff and the front office. The Golden State Warriors are proving yet again that they are an elite organization from top to bottom.
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Gunners Boss: De Lakers lose yet?
They did, and man, are Warriors fans loving this. I, for one, would be intrigued to see how LeBron and the Lakers would fare in the playoffs if they were to make it. I personally do not think they would go very far, especially since they would likely face a daunting team like the Warriors as their first-round matchup.
But at the same time, it would be a great story to see the young Kings make a run and sneak into the playoffs at the expense of a Lakers franchise that has tormented them over the years. It's going to be an exciting end to this season.