People are racing each other to compliment Kyrie Irving’s game, and for good reason. He’s far and away better than his teammates, especially on a night when Cleveland’s second best player is sitting out due to knee soreness. The Golden State Warriors fought off a third quarter rally but otherwise had little trouble beating the Cavaliers, who were overmatched inside without Anderson Varejao.
The Warriors outscored Cleveland 37-21 in the first quarter, and the biggest reason why was how Stephen Curry outplayed Irving. Curry seemed to have 15 points before Pablo Sandoval (huge ovation at Oracle) had settled into his courtside seat, while Irving started relatively slowly by comparison.
Irving (28 and 7) ended up with more points and assists than Curry (21 and 6), but Mark Jackson sounded almost like Jim Harbaugh after the game in the way he praised his point guard.
“Steph, people think I’m crazy but he’s an elite defender right now. Kyrie Irving is a primetime player that is awfully tough to contain. But one thing about Steph Curry, he’s battling, he’s competing, he’s fighting. He’s making multiple effort plays. He’s contesting shots. And then he’s carrying us offensively at times. It’s great to see him out there healthy and doing the job at both ends.”
That’s right, like how Harbaugh called Alex Smith an “elite quarterback” last season, Jackson called Curry — a player hardly known for his defense — an “elite defender.” Don’t believe it? I asked Jackson about Curry taking more charges than usual and Andrew Bogut’s influence in that category, and you can hear how Jackson responded below.
I told Curry about Jackson’s compliment and whether he thought he had improved on the defensive end this season, and here is what he said (35-second video):
Curry later told me that he’d probably taken more charges so far this year than he ever has in a 5-game stretch, and how seeing Andrew Bogut take charges motivates the rest of the team to do the same (1:03).
Dinner with Bob Myers
The Golden State Warriors haven’t done a lot of winning since BASG started in 2008. That means I missed the “We Believe” run, and things only got worse for the Warriors from there as they bottomed out twice — once under Don Nelson, then again last year as they were on a mission to load up on draft picks to prepare for a time when there wouldn’t be any (more on that later).
This may not matter a whole lot to a group of fans who have been asked to remain patient for eons, but the Warriors have been extremely friendly to bloggers, social media people, whatever you want to call this group I belong to. They were the first to invite me to a media day, the first to credential me for a game, and before Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers they invited me and two other non-traditional types (Rich Twu of Golden State of Mind and Ben Cruz from Warriorsworld — Adam Lauridsen couldn’t make it because he’s on his honeymoon) to have dinner with General Manager Bob Myers.
It was an informal setting, and the agreement was that nothing was to be recorded and most everything was off the record. However, what I can say (I think) is the general feeling I got after speaking with Myers is that he’s pretty realistic about his team’s current state compared to others in the Western Conference. Not that he doesn’t think the Warriors will make the playoffs, just that we haven’t seen this team play together yet (he mentioned how Bogut had only played something like 54 minutes over the team’s first four games).
Myers is candid, at least for a guy in his position. After spending so much time around the 49ers over the past few months, speaking with Myers was the opposite of interacting with Harbaugh.
Myers asked what we thought about how good the team is and our predictions for this season, and I gave him the same honest response I wrote when I answered the same question and several more on Warriors.com — while I like the team as a whole better than before, I have to see sustained competency before I predict a playoff berth. And Myers, to his credit, understood. Not that he should care what I think, but I couldn’t imagine feeling comfortable expressing the same skepticism to a guy like Harbaugh, Brian Sabean or even Trent Baalke.
Myers is a great communicator, which is why he was an agent before he became a GM, and why the Warriors are happy to show him off to media outlets great and small. Time and wins will tell whether Myers knows what he’s doing in his new position, and he came into the job with some disadvantages that he noted at dinner (hopefully I’m not saying too much), including a pretty inflexible cap situation and no picks in the 2013 Draft. However, he didn’t need to add “dinner with three bloggers” to his already hectic media schedule, let alone speak openly about many subjects.
Myers even said that if the team plays like crap, he doesn’t blame us at all for writing that the team played like crap. After a pretty solid win against Cleveland to put their record at 3-2, that won’t be necessary for now.