The Golden State Warriors are obviously insane. They are 20-0, own the record for most wins to start a season and have a legitimate chance at going for the longest winning streak in NBA history. They rank first in offensive efficiency and fifth in defensive efficiency. The Dubs lead the league in assists, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
That's just the team. Steph Curry by himself is on track to break his own three point record by over 100 threes. He has more threes so far than the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets. Steph leads the league in points, threes made, real plus-minus, win shares, has the highest player efficiency rating of all time and is second in steals per game.
All those stats are crazy and after their first 20 games, they have looked largely unbeatable. This is despite close games against the Nets, Jazz and Clippers. So when will this team record their first loss? Assuming they actually lose a game this season, here are my best bets for the first team to beat the Golden State Warriors, who are entering all-timer territory.
Tuesday, 8th December @Indiana Pacers
Harrison Barnes is expected to miss another week or two before he returns to the lineup, which is a big plus for the Pacers and any team that wants to try and beat the runaway freight train that is the Golden State Warriors. Barnes is the glue holding together the Warriors' dreaded small ball lineup. A group of guys that just destroy teams. That small ball unit has played just 64 minutes this season, as the Warriors only bring it out when they truly are in trouble, but it is scoring over an astounding 160 points per 48 minutes! They cause so many adjustments that the opposition defense usually just gives up, if you don't believe me, watch the last 5 minutes of the Clippers' collapse near the end of November.
With Barnes out of the lineup, that will force Golden State to go big and make them unable to play Draymond Green at center: their not so secret weapon. This means that Indiana don't have to worry about anything to do with endless switching at the tail-end of a game, or dealing with 5 three point shooters at the same time. It means, that Frank Vogel can play a regular unit, without having to match the Warriors.
This is where the Pacers can get a big leg up on the Dubs. Since their frontline won't get exposed, they can expose the Dubs' weakness in the frontcourt. The Pacers can stay big and pound the paint with Ian Mahinmi, Jordan Hill, Myles Turner and Lavoy Allen, a classic Pacers' tactic and a Frank Vogel favorite. As for the rest of the team, if Paul George gets hot and stays in the type of form he has been in recently, this Warriors team will be in trouble. Before his poor performance against Portland, George was on a tear of four straight 30 point games, including 40 against the Wizards and 39 against the Lakers. He is truly back and better than ever.
George will also serve as a massive hindrance defensively for Golden State. George's athleticism and general defensive instincts make him a great defender. He will share duties with George Hill in guarding Stephen Curry. Having the massive Paul George guarding you cannot be great for the 6'3'' Curry. If Curry is taken care of by Hill and George, this will force the Warriors to find other ways of putting the ball in the hoop, although they are adapt at this, it is significantly harder to win a basketball game when you don't have 30 points and 5 threes to rely on every night.
Friday, 11th December @Boston Celtics
Ok, yes I am a fan of this team and I love them to death, so I do have a slight bias here, but I think that this Celtics team has a real chance to knock off this Golden State team. Here are my points:
- They're at home, a place where they were up by more than 20 on the Warriors last year before they threw the game away. This team is better and more developed since last season, so they will surely have a better chance.
- David Lee is on this team, the longtime Warrior and member of last season's team. Lee is still adjusting to life in Boston, but will know all about the Dubs and where their weaknesses lie, expect him to be an assistant coach to Brad Stevens for this game.
- The Celts have perimeter defenders to matchup with Curry. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder are both excellent defenders, with great instincts. It is unclear whether Marcus Smart will miss this game, but if he doesn't, add him to Bradley and Crowder and that group is perfect for defending Curry.
- Boston's major weakness is their lack of interior defense. The Warriors don't have anyone on their team that will pound the Celtics in the post, like LaMarcus Aldridge, Jahlil Okafor and Brook Lopez have all done so far throughout this season. If this is their big weakness and the Warriors can't expose it, that has to count for something!
- Without Harrison Barnes, the Warriors can't go all crazy with their lineups against Boston.
- It is well documented that when Steph Curry is out of the game in foul trouble, teams do very well. The Celts have Isaiah Thomas who is great at drawing fouls.
- The Celtics are a top 10 defense and offense in terms of points per game. The only teams other than Boston to do this are the Cavs and Pacers (hey, would you look at that!), not even Golden State holds this advantage.
- Brad Stevens is coaching this team.
- BRAD STEVENS IS COACHING THIS TEAM!
You see why I'm getting excited? #BradStevens4President
LeBron got this team to within 2 games of defeating this Warriors teams in last season's Finals, with a hobbit as his second best player, that's how good this guy is. With the return of Kyrie Irving imminent and the continued rise of Kevin Love, this team is better than last season and will be ready for this game. If the Warriors somehow make it to this game by going undefeated, they will be in the position of tying the longest ever win streak of 33 games, by winning this encounter. I can guarantee you, that LeBron will want this game more than anything, even if it means playing a little bit harder and thus not saving himself for the postseason.
Again, if you want to read why Cleveland could beat, Golden State check out the link to my other article above!