Don’t let records fool you

It’s a logical question, but that doesn’t necessarily make it an easy one to answer. It goes like this: If the Warriors are so much better than last year, why is their record worse than it was at this time last season?

After all, the Warriors are vastly improved offensively, seemingly more well-coached and their schedule thus far has been friendly. Why then are the Warriors hovering around .500 when only a season ago, they jumped out of the gate 12-6?

A couple of reasons (excuses?).

First off, the schedule. Yes, the Warriors’ November schedule was home-heavy. But one quick glance suggests that, venue aside, the competition has been pretty good. By one subjective look at things, you could make a case that 11 of the Warriors’ first 18 games came against rock-solid playoff teams and another four or five against teams that will be in the playoff mix.

Last year at this time, the Warriors were feeling giddy but with little reason. Of the Warriors’ first 12 wins of a season ago, here were some of them: Atlanta, New York (twice), Portland, Toronto and Charlotte. They also had taken care of Milwaukee, New Jersey and Chicago, the latter two at home.

The Warriors’ most notable win during the first month of theseason in 2005-06 was a home win over Sacramento. And the other two wins came against the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Tulsa 66ers. OK, so they really came against the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets, but still.

This year, the Warriors own victories against the Mavericks (in Dallas), Detroit, Utah, San Antonio … and, yes, Sacramento, again. There is no denying, however, that the Warriors’ most recent home losses — against Indiana and Milwaukee last week — were big-time hurters. Those two defeats grayed up the skies before the Warriors headed to Texas this week.

The Warriors also should have health and a reasonable expectation for improvement on their side. A year ago, around midseason, point guard Baron Davis already had started to break down. And he would end up missing 26 of the final 32 games.

Who knows about injuries? But it’s not too much to assume that because Davis is in better shape this year than he was a season ago, he’ll be less likely to repeat his end run of last year.

The Warriors, as a whole, also figure to get healthier than they were in November. The Warriors have been at less-than-full strength from the get-go. Davis, Ike Diogu, Troy Murphy, Mickael Pietrus and Jason Richardson all have missed playing time.

It’s more than fair to be skeptical about the Warriors. They’re not that good yet. But they are better than they have been, despite what their record says.

Remember, the Warriors won 34 games last year. I’m still taking the “over.”

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.

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