I said in one of my earlier pieces that if the Golden State Warriors went 4-2 on the six-game Eastern Conference road trip that just concluded then it would be a successful road trip.
And that’s exactly what they did; finishing the road trip with two very good wins (at least one of them was a fantastic win).
After the Warriors melted down the stretch Sunday night vs the Raptors, the Warriors came out to play with a purpose Tuesday night vs the Indiana Pacers, who boasted the NBA’s best record (at the time). The Warriors came out and matched the defensive intensity of the Pacers and were leading by as many as 14 points in the 4th quarter, and then Pacers head coach Frank Vogel made a key defensive adjustment by giving the long and lanky 6-10 Paul George the defensive assignment on Stephen Curry.
The adjustment proved crucial as Steph Curry and the Warriors had one turnover after another. It looked like the Warriors were headed down the same exact path they walked against the Raptors Sunday, but the one bright spot in that forth quarter was guard Klay Thompson.
Thompson had 16 points in the forth quarter, and because Paul George was checking Curry that left Pacers point guard George Hill (who is 6-3) guarding the bigger Thompson (who is 6-7). That led to Thompson’s 4th-quarter eruption.
The Pacers came all the way back to tie the game at 96 and then the Warriors had the ball for the second to last possession of the game and head coach Mark Jackson called up a brilliant post up play for Thompson who was still being guard by Hill and he turned around and shot a perfect fade-away jumper to give the Warriors a two-point lead with .6 seconds left in the game and the Warriors were able to make one final stop for the 98-96 win.
After the huge win in Indiana the next night the Warriors played the Boston Celtics and it turned out to be a laugher as the Warriors put on an offensive clinic in the first half and eventually went on to win 108-88.
Golden State finished off the road trip 4-2, a successful road trip in my estimation, but they let one get away in Toronto. Even so, the Warriors are separating themselves from the pack in the lower playoff seeds of the Western Conference, and they have more important games coming up. They now have a 3 game home-stand with the most notable game being against the surprising Phoenix Suns.
Looking ahead to the last 20 games or so, the Warriors have a tough schedule remaining as they still have to face the Clippers, Mavericks and Trialblazers (twice) but the teams with better seeds have tougher schedules remaining. If the Warriors can find a away to get a top 4 seed in the Western Conference and can grant the rabid Warrior fans home court advantage at least in the first round, that would be ideal, but it remains to be seen if they can sustain the recent success they’ve been having and keeping the same defensive intensity.