Golden State Warriors: The ’05 Suns? Let’s Hope Not

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Updated: January 9, 2014
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I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Golden State Warriors play a good amount of games this season and they are definitely a fun watch. I enjoy watching the Portland Trail Blazers as well but the duo of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors are must see TV. The Splash Brothers as they are affectionately known are a lethal backcourt of sharpshooting snipers from the field. 

The two of them can light you up from virtually anywhere on the court and once they get going look out, they’ll shoot the lights out in the gym. But watching this team on their Eastern Conference road trip and namely against the Brooklyn Nets I couldn’t help but get a sense of Déjà vu, because this team looked and played very similar to a another team I used to enjoy watching also; the 2004-2005 Phoenix Suns.  For neutral fans like myself the Warriors are fun to watch, because Steph Curry is just an amazing young player, but that Suns team from ’05 can’t be something the Golden State Warriors fans want to be compared to. Not with their lack of championships under Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash anyway.

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The Suns under D’Antoni and Nash were also must see TV, and their run and gun style of offense gave opposing teams nightmares to defend against, but on the other end of the floor it was basically score at will against the Suns. The Suns couldn’t play defense to save their lives and they didn’t apologize for it. As long as they could outscore their opponents then for them the best defense was a great offense, and no one can deny it worked, to a point. 

In the ’04-’05 season the Suns finished first in the West with a 62-20 and got to the conference finals. So they made it far and played their brand of basketball doing it. But they eventually lost the Conference Finals 4-1 to a superior San Antonio Spurs team that was ready for them and their style of play.

During that season the Suns ranked dead last in opponents points per game at 103.3. Luckily for them they ranked first in offensive points per game at 110 so as long as they kept that up night in and night out they would have no problems winning. Outscoring good defensive teams with smart coaches who can game plan for a 7 game series won’t work, and it didn’t work for the Suns. Defense wins championships, and without good defense in the playoffs a team has no shot. 

The Warriors are not as bad as those Suns teams, but they give up a lot of 100-point games and have to continually outscore their opponents in shootouts to win games. In the month of November, the Warriors gave up 100 points to their opposition 10 times in 16 games.

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In the month of December they seemed to turn a corner defensively because in 15 games they only gave up 6. It seemed that Mark Jackson who was a stellar defender in his day was making inroads to getting his young Warriors team to play defense. Well that didn’t last long. 

In their last 5 games the Warriors gave up 100 points to their opposition 4 times, and the only reason they didn’t give up 100 points 5 straight games is because they came up against the NBA’s worse team Milwaukee Bucks. The numbers show that the Warriors are ranked in top 10 in defensive efficiency and opponents scoring which is shocking after all the 100-point games they’ve given up. But whatever progress they made in December has gone straight out the window in December. 

The Warriors gave up 37 points to the Nets in the second quarter of their game and over 100 points total, and this was a Brooklyn team without their two best players out with injury in Brook Lopez and Deron Williams. 

Maybe it was fatigue that set in against Brooklyn after a long road trip, because that is to be expected. But 100 points is 100 points and giving that amount up in January is fine, but come late April and May, those amounts of points are the difference between an early playoff exit and a genuine chance at the NBA Finals. 

What happens when the jump shots aren’t falling on a given night and the Warriors can’t out shoot or out score their opponents to a win? That’s when defense and rebounding comes up huge. Again, the Warriors are not as bad on defense as the Suns were in ’05, but as presently constructed and they way they’ve been playing since the New Year, the Warriors will find it extremely difficult to beat any team that play both sides of the ball well. 

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Mark Jackson needs to get this team to clamp down on defense, and he has to beat that into their heads starting now. Because if not this team will have their own version of Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire with Steph Curry and David Lee not doing anything of substance come crunch time. And that won’t be must see TV for anyone, especially not Warriors fans.

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