The Golden State Warriors know they have failed to live up to expectations thus far. They know their 13-10 record is not a true reflection of their ability or potential. And they know they must learn how to beat the Western Conference’s top teams if they hope to consider this season a success.
One would expect a team’s record to suffer in games against the top teams in the conference, but the Warriors have particularly struggled in such circumstances.
In games against the Western Conference’s top five teams (Portland, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, LA Clippers and Houston), Golden State is 1-5. The combined record of teams that have beaten them is .633, further confirmation of their inability to beat the conference’s top teams.
Of course, it makes sense for a team to lose to those with better records more often; that is how sports works. But for a team with high expectations like the Warriors, their failures against the elite teams they were supposed to beat are disappointing.
To make matters worse, of the 11 teams the Warriors have beaten this year, just two are currently in playoff positions. One of those teams is the Detroit Pistons, of the Eastern Conference, who are 10-13. The combined record of the teams the Warriors have beaten is just .445; their victories have, for the most part, come against opponents they will not face come playoff time.
The Warriors are by no means doomed. They simply must find ways to beat the teams they will eventually face in the playoffs. Friday night’s matchup against Houston is a great way for Golden State to get back on track.
The Rockets are one of the more vulnerable teams in that upper echelon. The game figures to be a shootout, as the Warriors will exploit Houston’s 23rd-ranked scoring defense. On the other hand, the Rocket’s have the NBA’s top offense. David Lee and Andrew Bogut must hold their own against Dwight Howard and the Rockets’ top-ranked rebounders.
If they can do so, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can take care of the rest. The Rockets are severely lacking when it comes to perimeter defending, which points toward big performances from the Warriors’ backcourt.
Golden State must show that their true ability is why many chose them to be among the Western Conference’s top teams prior to the season. To get back to that level, they must first beat the teams they want to become.