x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The Golden State Warriors have a winning state of mind

After nearly two decades in the doldrums, Steve Dilbeck finds the Warriors are on the victory road again.

Stephen Curry, right, and David Lee are helping the Golden State Warriors thrive.
Stephen Curry, right, and David Lee are helping the Golden State Warriors thrive.

They are the NBA's great afterthought on the Pacific Coast. A franchise that has spent half a century defining "pedestrian".

The Golden State Warriors have been in the San Francisco area for 50 seasons and won exactly one NBA title, in 1975. They have advanced to the play-offs once in the past 18 years.

They have blown through coaches and players and rebuilding programmes like a teenager through an allowance. All with the same dismal result.

At the moment, something strange is happening to the NBA's California stepchild. The Warriors are winning.

Winning so much that after the first month of the season, they are tied for first in the Pacific Division with a 10-6 record.

One month hardly makes a season, but they lead the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers and all their superstars by two-and-a-half games. They have won three consecutive games and five of their past six. This has been achieved without a superstar of their own, mostly without their Australian centre Andrew Bogut, without the departed Monta Ellis and with precious little fanfare.

They are winning behind the point guard Stephen Curry (18.6 points and 6.1 assists per game), now firmly in control since the Warriors sent Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for Bogut. Winning behind the forward David Lee (17.1 points and 10.8 rebounds) and the second-year forward Klay Thompson (15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds), and with the surprise contributions of the rookie forward Harrison Barnes (9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds).

"I feel like everyone is playing their role," Lee said. "Nobody is playing perfect right now. We're making mistakes but we're pushing through and covering for one another and doing what it takes to win."

History tells the Warriors to be cautious, but they believe they are on to something.

"We can do a lot better," Curry said. "When you look at the games we've lost, we had a legit chance to make a couple of plays and finish out a few of them.

"So we've got to learn from those, keep pushing and keep this pace."

If they ever get Bogut back, the 7-footer, they might really be onto something. He averaged 10-plus points and rebounds per game for three consecutive seasons before coming to the Warriors. But he arrived with a bad ankle, one the Warriors only recently admitted needed surgery. He has played sparingly in four games and now is out indefinitely.

They are carrying on without him, and learning to play together.

"I think a lot of times the team that comes out with the victory is the team with the better chemistry," Lee said.

"Last year we were awful in games that were close and this year we've been pretty good."