It’s not a coincidence that ever since Andre Iguodala returned to the starting lineup from his hamstring injury December 17th, the Golden State Warriors (24-14) finally strung together a lengthy win streak.
The Warriors had a sluggish start to the NBA season, a start that was caused because of nagging injuries to multiple players, key players at that.
But, the importance of Iguodala to the Warriors cannot be overstated; he is not only one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, but arguably one of the Warriors’ best playmakers, as he is counted on to play the point forward position. The Warriors were 5-3 and a top 5 defensive team in most of the major statistical categories before his hamstring injury, but during his 12 game absence the Warriors were 5-7 and allowed more than 100 ppg in 10 of those 12 games, struggling to string together consecutive wins.
So what has happened since Iggy’s return? The Warriors will be facing the Boston Celtics Friday night in Oracle arena after having won 11 of the last 13 games and they just finished up a road trip last Wednesday in which they went 6-1. The Warriors didn’t end the road trip like they wanted too, losing to the Brooklyn Nets (14-21) Wednesday 102-98, snapping a 10-game winning streak. With that loss the Warriors lost the opportunity to be the first team in NBA history to finish a 7 game road trip undefeated.
“Certainly a tough loss,” Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson said. “Disappointed that we did not finish it the right way. Give them credit. It was a great job by them, but we will not lose sight of the fact that we were 6-1 on this road trip.”
Even with the loss, Coach Jackson still hasn’t lost sight of the big picture.
“Truth be told, none of us knew who had the record prior to us trying to chase it down,” Coach said after Wednesday’s loss. “The history that we’re chasing after is bigger than a seven-game road trip (record for) wins.”
The seven game road trip was highlighted with key games, such as the 108-104 overtime win in Cleveland December 29th, a battle of two rising stars in the NBA, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry. The Warriors also came into Miami and beat the 2-time defending champion Miami Heat, and the very next day beat the Atlanta Hawks on a game-winning 3 point field goal by Andre Iguodala (you know, that important guy I was talking about earlier)
This type of streak is what elite basketball teams are looking for so they can boost themselves in the conference standings, the Warriors went from hovering around the 9th or 10th spot in the Western Conference to being ranked 4th in the Western conference standings and are now playing like the team that many “experts” (including myself) thought would be playing before the season started, but it goes to show why health is an important factor in team success in all sports, which is why Warriors Power-Forward David Lee started hashtagging “#fullsquad” on his twitter account recently.