After looking like one of the leagues worst squads in their previous four straight (2 of which should have been "gimmies"), but tapped into their "We Believe" state against the leagues best team at Oracle Tuesday and beat the Miami Heat in thrilling, overtime fashion.
The Warriors were starting to look like they just couldn't cut it playing without their leader and point guard, Steph Curry, as they failed miserably against the Suns and Jazz, two teams they have more talent than and should have beaten. But on Tuesday night, we finally saw someone take hold of the offense, and no it wasn't Monta Ellis. Monta is Monta and will bring it every night, but he showed in the previous 4 games that the team doesn't run as well when he's running the point (for whatever reason, I don't know). The man to step up and take control of the offense was 5'9" Nate Robinson, in his 4th day as a Warrior, took the lead and led this team into overtime when things looked all but over with about 3 minutes left in the game. Robinson stepped up to bring 25 points, 5 assists, 4 boards and 4 steals off the bench in 36 minutes of play, basically handling PG duties from the 4th quarter through OT. I mentioned to our other writer here at the Rundown, Brian, the other day that I thought the Warriors should be running Robinson at point and Ellis at two while Steph is shelved. I don't like putting a green rookie like Charles Jenkins into the starting lineup, and it's not to knock Jenkins, there are just better options.
Even though Robinson was huge and helped lead the charge, the Warriors finally helped out their leading scorer Monta Ellis, as Dorell Wright and David Lee each had their best nights of the young season. In a game when Monta shot worse than he would have liked (9-25, 1-7 on 3's), he still managed 22 points with 3 assists, steals and rebounds. His big problem on the night was turnovers, as key ones late almost cost the team the game, and he ended with a whopping 9 on the night, half of the teams TO's. Luckily for him though, he didn't have to have his "A" game vs. LeBron and Wade, as David Lee stepped up with a 20/14 night to go with 4 steals. Dorell Wright also busted out, as he had by far his best night of the season popping off for 20 points (6 three's), and 10 boards himself. The Dubs were playing shorthanded as they were again without Curry and Andris Biedrins, so it was key for those bigs to dominate the glass and beat Miami on the boards. The W's can also thank the fact that the Heat struggled at the line, shooting just 65% as a team, cause the Warriors shot barely 40% from the field.
So what does this win mean in the grand scheme of things? Nothing really. It did prove the Warriors can play with the leagues elite when they're on, even without Curry, but they still sit at 3-6 and the fact they're being so hush-hush about Steph's injury makes me worry that it might be a little more serious than the club is leading on. Why else is Steph in Charlotte when the Warriors are back home playing the heat? If he's close to returning, he'd be with the team working out but that's not the case. So this team is still behind the 8-ball, but I really want to see how this team finishes out January before I make my guess. After Orlando on Thursday, the W's face 4 teams in a row that they should beat, and if they do so, that could turn around their season. Still way early folks, but let's see if this beating of the Heat without Steph becomes the huge momentum shifter this team was looking for!