The Golden State Warriors want and need to relive the magic created by the “We Believe” team of 2006-07 in the playoffs. This year’s team is full of upside and developing firepower, but it is limping to the gate compared to that magical season.
This year’s team has outperformed all expectations and will be climbing the Western Conference ladder for the next few years with a roster GM Bob Myers will aim to keep together. The team did most of its damage at the beginning of the season without the help of center Andrew Bogut, though, and is now trying to adjust to a new rotation that should eventually make it even more dangerous.
Bogut demonstrates that he is the core of the defense with his blocks and ability to change an opponent’s shot selection. He is also a force on the offensive end with his touch passes and slam dunks.
The group is still adjusting to having the true starting lineup on the floor, but it has played significantly better since going through two large stretches of losing. The team has gone 6-3 in its past nine games, with only nine games remaining in the season.
The “We Believe” team finished the 2006-07 season with a 9-1 record, where the only loss was in the town where the Warriors have not won since 1997: San Antonio. That Golden State team, led by Baron Davis, had a chip on its shoulder and needed the white hot finish just to qualify for the playoffs.
The last reminder from that team is still around in Andris Biedrins, but in a far less productive form. He averaged 9.5 PPG and 9.3 RPG during the 2006-07 season, compared to 0.5 PPG and 2.9 RPG in less than 10 MPG of action this season. He has been a lot more productive this season, however, compared to the last couple of years.
The “We Believe” team got hot and used its mismatches against the No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks to just out-work and out-hustle them. That season’s team played at a frenetic pace and defined what “Nellie Ball” was all about.
This clip shows some highlights of the Warriors taking hold of the momentum in the first game of the series.
The Warriors set the tone in the series not only with productive movement of the ball, but also with defense. The play that Jason Richardson made on the breakaway layup was a perfect example of making the extra effort.
The team also filled the lanes, made the critical steals that led to easy fast-break points and forced the Mavericks out of their comfort zone. The biggest part was the fact that they believed that they could accomplish such a great task.
The “We Believe” team had a dynamic backcourt made up of Davis, Richardson and sixth-man Monta Ellis. It also had a small front court, with the exception of Biedrins, that used its athleticism to cover up its height disadvantages.
The current group of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes is very similar in makeup. Jarrett Jack is also a key factor, as he is in the running for the Sixth Man Award and is in there to close out games—similar to the role of Stephen Jackson in 2006-07.
It will be a tall order to advance to the second round of the playoffs, but if they can avoid a first round matchup with the likes of the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder, it can be done. The Warriors have a lineup that works well in the half-court offense and have two big men in Bogut and David Lee that can out-work and out-skill opponents.
As shown in this clip, the Warriors use their two big men, along with Curry to produce a transition bucket.
As you can see, David Lee goes up for the board and immediately makes a slick pass to the transitioning Curry, who dribbles to the top of the key. At the top of the key, Curry lofts a pass to Bogut for the easy alley-oop.
This season’s team is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season, and only the second time since the 1993-94 season. As all Warriors’ fans understand, the past has been a very dreary place, and that is why this season’s team carries such a heavy burden.
Defense is a key fundamental that needs to be the focus of this team’s run. Klay Thompson showed that he could limit one of the NBA’s all-time best players, Kobe Bryant, on defense and that Thompson is making solid strides.
This team is ironing out its differences and will need to be in playoff-ready shape by mid-April. There are flaws that can be corrected, like the lapses in perimeter defense and scoring lulls that usually occur during the second and third quarters.
The Warriors can ill-afford to play the way they did against the Sacramento Kings on March 27, where they looked lackluster and gave up way too many opportunities. They also fell into the scoring run of not making a basket for a five-minute span.
If the team can gel and minimize the reoccurring problems that plague it on any given night, they could be on the same track as the 2006-07 team. Winning breeds confidence, and if the Warriors can win the important games in April, it could be a springboard to playoff success.
The Dubs will get a chance to face both the Thunder and the Spurs at home in the remaining games, which will give the Dubs a glimpse of what a possible second-round matchup might look like. In order to get there, they need to execute and believe.