OAKLAND -- After blasting through the first 51 games with the best record in the NBA, but acknowledging they lost some of their edge early this month, the Warriors are out to recapture that spirit over the final two months of the regular season.
"Those last few days before the break were kind of tough for all of us," guard Klay Thompson said. "We were lucky to get wins."
Thompson is one of the few players who did not get a full week off for the All-Star break. He, along with fellow guard Stephen Curry and the entire coaching staff, spent last weekend in New York, where their energies were directed to marketing matters related to the league and, for Thompson and Curry, themselves.
Most everyone else, however, took a real break.
It was needed, too, as the Warriors (42-9) begin the stretch run with one of the most difficult exams in the league.
The defending champion Spurs come to Oracle Arena on Friday night. San Antonio is one of only two teams to beat the Warriors in Oakland this season. And roughly 12 hours after that battle, the Warriors go on a nine-day road trip during which they will face, in succession, three of the top five teams in the Eastern Conference.
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"It's a tough month for us," center Andrew Bogut said. "As long as we do our work early, and make sure we get on a run early, we'll be OK."
No one needed the break more than Bogut. He missed 12 games with a right knee injury, returning Jan. 7, and clearly was fighting fatigue/soreness in the final three games before the break that began Feb. 12.
"Yeah, there was something going on," Bogut told CSNBayArea.com, declining to cite specifics. "But it's good now. Let’s just say the break was really good for me."
The Warriors, to a man, believe they are a better team than that which took a 113-100 loss to San Antonio on Nov. 11 at Oracle. Their belief is supported by statistics.
The Warriors lost that game despite outshooting the Spurs 54.3 percent to 49.5 percent and outrebounding them 38-36. The defeat was most a result of the Warriors committing 19 turnovers, while San Antonio committed only eight.
"We were kind of the pet project compared to them," Bogut said. "They taught us a lesson that night."
"We went on a tear right afterwards," Curry said, "and we did that by cutting down on turnovers."
The Warriors responded to the loss to the Spurs by going on a 16-game win streak, a franchise record. After averaging nearly 20 per game over the first two weeks of the season, while integrating a new offense under Kerr, the Warriors are now averaging 14.6 giveaways per game.
More impressive, they rank fourth in assists-to-turnover ratio.
The numbers weren't as good as the Warriors would have liked in the three games before the break, when they were facing the league's worst teams. So the focus upon returning to work Wednesday and Thursday was getting back to the basics.
"It's more about what we're doing in our own execution, rather than our opponents," Kerr said.
The Warriors will rededicate themselves to several specifics, including shot selection, offensive execution and rebounding. They believe they are beyond the "slump."
To be fair, those games came during a stretch wherein the Warriors played six games in nine nights, on two different coasts. And, still, they were 5-1, losing only to the potent Hawks in Atlanta.
"We know that it's a long run in the NBA, so we welcomed the All-Star break for sure," Bogut said. "A lot of guys were banged up, mentally and physically."
"But I think now we've got that trophy sitting there at the end of the season. That's our motivation."