Could the Golden State Warriors Actually Win the Pacific Division?
With a 104-96 victory over the Bobcats on Monday night, the Warriors moved to 14-7 on the season, an impressive 8-4 on the road and 8-2 in their last 10 games. While it may be a little early to start looking at division standings, Golden State did manage to move within a half game of the Clippers for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Could the Warriors do the unthinkable and win the Pacific for the first time since 1976?
Why they could
Despite missing two key members of their team for the majority of the season (Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush), the Warriors have been able to come together and play winning basketball.
They are starting to shed labels of the past that they're a team who can't rebound or play defense. Golden State currently sits in the top five in the league for rebound differential at +4.2 and are in the the top 10 for opponent's field-goal percentage at 43.1 (which can be credited to the defensive changes they've made this season). These are staggering numbers by Warriors standards.
Throw in the resurgence of Stephen Curry and David Lee, and you have the formula for Golden State's success.
Mark Jackson has preached defense and rebounding from day one of his coaching stint and has now found a way to get that message across to his troops. It isn't likely that the Warriors will forget these principles as the season goes on, which puts them in position for a very successful year.
Why they won't
Too much would have to go right for the Warriors in order for them to take home the Pacific crown. First, the Lakers would have to continue their downward trend on this rollercoaster-type season they've been enduring. While Kobe and co. do have a lot of issues that need fixing such as their depth problem, lack of defense and figuring out what to do with Pau Gasol, they simply have too much talent not to turn things around.
Steve Nash's return from injury will be a big boost for the team. Although he doesn't solve any of their defensive problems, Mitch Kupchak is likely hard at work figuring out a way to bring in someone to help in that department.
Aside from the Lakers, the Warriors would have to surpass a much-improved Clippers team. With Chris Paul running the show and Blake Griffin ready to dunk on anyone like they're a Kia, they are primed to pass up the 40-win season they put together in 2011-12.
Paul is not only one of the best point guards in the league, but also one of the best overall players, capable of leading the Clips to victory on any given night. Add in the signings of Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom, and you're looking at the deepest team in the Pacific and quite possibly the NBA.
Ultimately, the fate of the Warriors is in their own hands, but for them to take home a division title, several misfortunes would have to take place for the two LA teams. Whenever achieving a goal comes down to the necessity of others failing, that's not generally a good sign.
Winning the Pacific division at the end of the season is very much a long shot for the soon-to-be San Francisco-bound team.
Making the playoffs on the other hand? Well, that is still very much in the cards.
One out of two isn't bad, right?
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