On Sunday, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings, 119-107, to improve to 3-0 on the season. With victories over the Lakers and Clippers in the first week, Golden State has swept the California teams out of the gate and has a great chance to get off to a fast start with an appealing upcoming schedule.
The Warriors will play 11 of their next 14 games against non-playoff teams from last season over the next three weeks. Two of their next three games are against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are already in tank mode, and they play eight of their next nine at home. In that mix are some improved non-playoff teams from a year ago. During this stretch, the Warriors will face the Charlotte Hornets twice and the Chicago Bulls once. Both of those teams have gotten off to 3-0 starts in their respective leagues.
Still, as far as NBA schedule stretches go, this is a clear opportunity for the Warriors to bank a significant number of wins, which would come in handy as they try to maintain their position in the upper half of the Western Conference playoff race until Klay Thompson makes his season debut, which could be after Christmas.
The good news for the Warriors is that they’re winning despite Stephen Curry having a terrible shooting night in two of the first three games. Curry shot 14 for 44 from the field and 6 for 23 from three against the Lakers and Kings. Of course, he had a 45-point performance against the Clippers, but Golden State is getting contributions from all over the roster.
On Sunday, Curry scored 27 points on 9-of-23 shooting, including 4 of 15 from beyond the arc, but Golden State was able to limit its turnovers, which threatened to derail its victories over both L.A. teams.
Curry’s highly anticipated matchup with Kings defensive rookie sensation Davion Mitchell, frankly, favored Mitchell. Curry got Mitchell once on the move shown below, but that was the only bucket Curry got while being directly defended by Mitchell, who is known as “off night” because that’s what you’re in for when he’s guarding you.
Curry called for a ball screen almost every time Mitchell defended him (though this is a standard part of Golden State’s offense), and tried to do the majority of his work by leading Mitchell through a maze of screens. Curry lost Mitchell once for a three-pointer, but the rookie was as glued to Curry as a defender can be. Give the kid his due. He is, without a doubt, the real deal.
But here’s where this Warriors team differs from last year’s. Curry isn’t the only ray of hope. This is a deep, experienced team, with Jordan Poole being the only truly young player getting significant minutes right now; Gary Payton II took advantage of his opportunity with Andre Iguodala out on Sunday, scoring 10 points and hitting both of his 3-point attempts while playing his usual excellent defense. Payton is Golden State’s 15th man, and he’s a legitimate contributor when needed.
The Warriors couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, and if they take care of business over the next three weeks, they’ll be in a good position in the West when things heat up in late November.