I probably would’ve attended my first Warriors gameon Thursday night since Bay Area Sports Baby was born, seeing as The Brow was in town, but my dad and stepmom came down from Eureka to visit their granddaughter. Not a bad reason to stay at home, not a bad reason at all. After dinner, I asked whether they’d mind if I turned on the game, which had started about a minute earlier.
“I was hoping you would,” said my father, who earlier that evening mentioned how he was going to start following the Warriors this year. And with that, I knew for certain: the loyal Warriors fans of yesteryear are about to be joined by thousands upon thousands of new fans. If my dad was ready to follow the NBA for the first time since the mid-80s, that’s when you know this team is ready to get REALLY popular.
Then Golden State showed why, with a thorough and joyful bludgeoning of the Pelicans. My parents were dazzled by Harrison Barnes dunks and Marreese Speights pump fakes, two things we didn’t see all that often last season. The Warriors weren’t all that bad in 2013-14. That win total of 51 seemed like a lot.
At this rate, they may end up with that many by early March.
The Warriors won by nearly 30 (112-85), despite falling behind 28-20 in the first quarter and going 8-for-17 from the line. But it wasn’t just that they scored so many more points than New Orleans, but how. 31 of the Warriors’ 47 baskets came on assists from teammates, and that’s exactly the kind of offensive basketball new fans want to see. Quick passes, unselfishness, dunks and threes. If that’s not your recipe for instant basketball fandom, your list of ingredients better include Michael Jordan.
— Steve Kerr may deserve to win Coach of the Year just for getting Barnes to rebound. Somehow, Barnes’ rebounding average sunk from 4.1 per game in his rookie season to 4.0 last year, despite playing three more minutes per contest. Barnes grabbed another 10 boards on Thursday night, pushing his average to 6.7 rpg this season — nine rpg over his last eight contests.
— Barnes was a ridiculous +36 tonight.
— After one of several dunks from Anthony Davis, my stepmom insisted that not only is the court too small, but the basket should be raised. I explained that there’s only one player in the world who does what Davis does, but she still seemed skeptical.
— It was in garbage time, but that was a nice alley-oop finish from Justin Holliday. Great under-the-radar signing from Golden State for situational defense, but I’m sensing that he’ll become a valuable NBA reserve and stick around the league for a while.
— It’s tough to lose when you have more steals (11) than turnovers (9) and as many blocks (8) as personal fouls.
— It’s also tough to lose when you play against this Pelicans team, which would look an awful lot like the Sixers without Davis. The Warriors still have to prove they can exert their will against bigger, deeper teams like Memphis, something Chuck mentioned after the game. With the backup center spot looking like the Warriors’ only apparent weakness, one has to wonder whether they have a handshake deal with Jermaine O’Neal to come back for the second half and a postseason run.
— All in all, my dad got pretty fired up over at least 10 Warriors highlight plays, most notably Barnes’ drive and dunk when he caught the ball and breezed by Luke Babbitt (who got caught staring at someone else). Then he asked me to turn up the volume to hear Curry’s postgame interview. Yep, he’s hooked. And he isn’t the only one.