The Warriors are taking their talents to the Rockies on Tuesday, and not for the beer.
They’re trying to find a once-faithful friend that has always been there in times of need, or greed, bringing joy and lightening the load of an 82-game NBA season.
Remember momentum? Or, as Stephen Curry refers to it: “Big Mo?”
For most of Steve Kerr’s tenure as Warriors coach, momentum – defined as winning five or more consecutive games – was never far away. Over the last four seasons, the Warriors have enjoyed 22 streaks ranging from five to 24 games. There were six such streaks in 2014-15, seven 2015-16, five in 2016-17 and four last season.
The five-game roll was their way of restoring order and often was the gateway to a dominating stretch.
But more than halfway through this season, the Warriors have had one such streak. One. It came during the first three weeks, when they won 10 of their first 11 games.
Mo left the Warriors on Nov. 8, when the Milwaukee Bucks came into Oracle Arena and bullied their way to a 23-point rout in a game that left Stephen Curry limping off the floor with a groin strain that sidelined him until December. The Warriors are 19-12 since then, with four straight wins as the high and four straight losses as the low.
They’ll be looking for that fifth straight win when they face the Nuggets at Pepsi Center in Denver.
A victory over Western Conference leader not only would generate momentum but also would put the Warriors alone atop the Western Conference for the first time since their winless (0-3) trip through Texas in mid-November. And that’s not all.
“We’re playing the best team in the West right now,” Kerr told reporters at Tuesday morning at shootaround. It’s a team that we could see later on. Yeah, there’s lots to play for.”
Before leaving Oakland on Saturday, The Warriors, to a man, seemed to believe they were about to go on a run. They were coming off back-to-back blowout wins (over the Knicks and the Bulls), they were facing a lot of time on the road and they were days away from adding DeMarcus Cousins to the starting lineup.
But there are, of course, details involved. Not every team is the Knicks or the Bulls, or even the Mavericks, who the Warriors barely held off on Sunday in Dallas.
It’s the Nuggets, followed less than 24 hours later by the Pelicans, with a six-day stay in Los Angeles – games against the Clippers and Lakers – coming after that.
Are the Warriors still capable of laying waste to the rest of the league? Moreover, do they care enough to make the effort to do so in the regular season?
It’s about “doing it,” according to Kevin Durant.
“Just staying conscious of what is most important, which is basketball,” he said the other day. “And when we lock in, we’re pretty good. Just got to do it. Obviously we look for this to carry over into the next week or so of basketball, but we will see what happens.”
The pieces are coming together. Curry and Durant on top of their games. Klay Thompson has come out of the darkness. Draymond Green is, with each passing day, looking a bit more like the force we’ve come to expect. The bench has been solid.
The reset arrives Tuesday night. It’s in a place that has supplanted Oracle as the best homecourt advantage in the NBA. The Nuggets are 18-3 at home. They’ve beaten the Warriors three times in the last four meetings there.
“They’re clearly going to be in the playoffs,” Kerr said. “I think we are too. So there’s an excellent chance we might play each other.”
The stakes are about as high as possible in January. Given the circumstances, there is no more satisfying victory to be had. If the Warriors get it, Mo will be with them on the flight back to the Bay Area late Tuesday night.