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Why You Can Believe
It feels like the Golden State Warriors have the tools to compete with anyone, especially when the entire squad is healthy and able to suit up in those blue-and-yellow jerseys.
Mark Jackson has gotten this defense into the realm of the elites, as it's allowing only 101.6 points per 100 possessions, a mark that leaves the Dubs trailing just the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. And it's not like this team is bad on offense, although it still ranks outside the top half of NBA teams when looking at offensive rating.
Isn't this the exact makeup of a team that you want?
Golden State has an elite defense, but it also has the ability to absolutely explode on offense. When Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are hitting with relentless fury, the Warriors are nearly impossible to stop, and they'll only get more potent if Andre Iguodala adopts a more aggressive mentality on that end of the floor.
Curry has consistently shown that he's a superstar, and he's one of the few players in the Association who can catch fire to the extent that he singlehandedly wins games. You want a player like that on your side when you go into battle.
But by the time the postseason rolls around, this team should be so much more than a supporting cast for Curry.
Thanks to the early-season injuries, Iguodala is still learning how to fit with his new teammates. Jordan Crawford, who was brought aboard via a midseason trade, is still figuring out his role for the second unit.
This team hasn't yet come together, and we're already talking about them as contenders.
Why You Can't
Are they really contenders, though?
That's a title that needs to be earned, and a team that's nearly double-digit games behind the top squad in the Western Conference shouldn't have gained it yet. I'll bite on fringe contenders, but without the adjective, everything gets a little shaky.
Golden State has already gotten past the 30-win barrier, but that's just not enough.
This team hasn't been able to win games with any sort of frequency, and their impressive record is boosted by the double-digit win streak they put together earlier in the season. Without it, we're looking at a squad that would be fighting to move into postseason contention.
For all the Warriors' defensive skills and shooting abilities, they've had too much difficulty closing out tight games.
NBA.com's statistical databases show that Golden State is only 6-13 in games that feature a five-point margin or less (either a lead or a deficit) during the final minute. That's not going to cut it, especially when the playoffs roll around and games are even tighter.