OAKLAND – The nerve of the Warriors, thinking they can be better.
Better than the cooperative spirit that thus far has resulted in a 24-1 record, the best in the NBA.
Better than they were during seven weeks of record-setting, crowd-pleasing, message-sending basketball.
“I know how much better we can be on both ends of the ball, and that’s kind of scary,” forward Draymond Green said Tuesday. “It’s definitely encouraging. It’s exciting. And it will be fun to actually reach what we think we can reach.”
The Warriors had just finished their second consecutive day of practice, something that did not occur during the 14-day road trip that concluded over the weekend. They went through drills on offense and defense and, even as they await the return of Harrison Barnes, consider themselves ready for a restart.
“I expect us to be sharp and be well-rested after these last two days,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “We had a good practice today. We got some scrimmaging where we sweated out, hopefully got some of those turnovers out of our system, and did a bunch of execution work.”
It was partly back-to-basics session and partly about refocusing for the defending champions who seem primed to repeat.
The Warriors, according to Green, had fallen into the trap of lazy offense that comes with knowing Stephen Curry is on the court. They got “too Steph-heavy” on offense, too often relying the reigning MVP to carry them.
“The way he had to work so much harder for the shots that we could get him. And it wasn’t like he was out there chasing,” Green said. “It’s what we did. Without our execution, we’ve got the best player in the world. We’re just going to give him the ball and say, hey, ‘Get us a bucket,’ when we can help him get buckets in a lot easier way.”
Curry has the early lead in the 2015-16 MVP race. Green is triple-doubling his way into the minds of fans around the globe. Backup big man Festus Ezeli is playing as well as most starting centers. Andre Iguodala has for the most part looked refreshed after a summer of therapy on his achy knees.
But there is room for improvement, including making life easier for Curry. Klay Thompson was just finding his form before sustaining a sprained ankle in the sixth of the seven-game trip. Barnes hopes to return later this month. Coach Steve Kerr, who attended both practices this week, continues to work his way back.
So, yes, considering the potential, there is reason to believe the Warriors can get better. Which sounds incredible, if not insane, insofar as they are the first team in NBA history to know the feeling of being 24-1.