The Warriors’ Tuesday night win followed what has become a familiar script — they oozed out of the blocks, looking alternately discombobulated and disinterested, then rumbled their way through a middling second quarter before dominating the third and coasting to a double-digit win over a bad team.
It’s fair to ask: What the heck is my problem with that? It ended in a double-digit victory.
On the other hand, Golden State should not be getting worked over by Courtney Lee and Enes Kanter for a 31-21 first quarter deficit.
The most obvious difference between the early-game and late-game play yesterday was that of Draymond Green. After a first half that saw him play perfectly decent basketball — he had six assists, after all — he came out of the locker room like a hellion for the third quarter. His six points and two rebounds in the period don’t show you his unbelievable defensive performance. He was a man possessed.
My thought watching this was that perhaps the Warriors’ early-season inconsistency is nothing more than a product of the relative level of engagement of Green. He acknowledged the issue at shootaround Tuesday: “When you’re on a run like we’re on, the challenge is to be able to get up for those games, and to stay engaged in the process of getting better each and every time you get on the floor, and not necessarily [relative to] the opponent that you’re playing.”
Dray copped to taking some responsibility for that engagement when he was asked if it’s fair to ask him to bring the attitude for the team on a night-to-night basis: “I mean, I think it’s fair because that’s part of my role. Is it realistic? Probably not. But I don’t think it’s unfair.” Later, in another answer, he gave perhaps his most telling take on the issue: “Attitude in this league is everything.”
Green is correct on all counts — this team, on its presumptive fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals, is facing a challenge of engagement, and reasonably so. They are so good that their biggest problem is motivation. Draymond, as the beating heart of a superstar-laden roster, is the Chief Engagement Engineer, and part of his job is to enforce order when necessary.
It is probably not realistic to ask for blind determination and unblemished commitment from a team that has played into June for three consecutive seasons, and that should ease the mind of any Warriors fans who have become anxious with their squad’s up-and-down play. With the halfway point in the rearview mirror, and a real race for home court advantage on their hands, one imagines you can expect that level of intensity and engagement to rise to a Championship crescendo as we head downhill toward the playoffs.
Matt Kolsky is a sports media professional (or something like that) and lives with an aging Shih Tzu/Schnauser mix in Berkeley. You can hear him on the Bay Area sports radio station 95.7 the Game, usually on weekends. You can listen to his podcast, The Toy Department, on iTunes or wherever else fine podcasts are free. You can find him on Twitter @thekolsky to share your personal feelings about this article or any other topic, he will respond to most tweets that do not contain racial slurs.