NBA: The Warriors Have Their Swagger Back
After a porous, uninspired 0-6 start, the majority of the sports population labeled the Warriors as just another flash in the pan. What was missing during their dreadful first two weeks of play turned out to be a very cohesive ingredient: Stephen Jackson.
Since his return to the lineup, the Warriors are 26-12 and playing upbeat and aggressive basketball. They lead the league in shots per game, steals per game and are currently second in the NBA in scoring per game at nearly 109 per contest.
Golden State has beaten the Spurs and Rockets twice, while also defeating the Lakers, Suns, Cavilers, as well of a host of other playoff contending teams. Ironically one of the only teams they have struggled against is the Dallas Mavericks, the same team they gave fits during last years playoffs.
Jackson's return has united the chemistry of the Warriors and made every player on the team better. Monta Ellis, last year's most improved player, has continued to blossom during the past few weeks.
Ellis is averaging 17.6 ppg, but has absolutely gone on a tear in January. Ellis scored a career high 39 against the Nets and has scored 20+ five times this month. His incredible quickness and uncanny knack for finishing in traffic has molded him into one of the most explosive guards in the NBA off the dribble and a constant penetration threat.
While Jackson has provided the missing piece that was vacant earlier on and Ellis has been the recent standout, Baron Davis has consistently been the heart and soul of the Warrior identity.
Feeling snubbed by the fans in the All-Star voting, Davis played with a chip on his shoulder against New Jersey posting a triple double with 25 points, 10 assists, and 12 rebounds. Outside of Lebron James, there isn't a single player in the NBA that is as important to his team as Davis.
While they struggled without Jackson, the Warriors would be in absolute dismay if Davis were to miss time. His 22.3 ppg and magic-like orchestration of the offense cannot be replaced.
When the Warriors big three are hot, there is no team in the NBA that Golden State fears. If teams fall into the Warriors up tempo style of play, their incredibly quick guards and artful passing will give opponents fits. No matter what seed the Warriors land, the team they are playing is going to be burdened with a terrible migraine.
Davis, Jackson and Ellis are all emerging as superstars in perfect harmony with Golden State's revival. With a tinker or two before the trade deadline and a favorable schedule down the stretch, the Warriors will be looking to prove that last year's emergence.
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