It's been one of the longest road trips that an NBA team will ever take, as the Warriors haven't played a game at Oracle since mid-February. Coupled with the all-star break, and the 6-game road trip, it's kept them from their home court for 3 weeks and Monday night marks the final game of this pro-longed road trip.
The Warriors started things off very strongly, beating Atlanta and Phoenix, but were blown out by Philly then lost a rough one to a team they should have been able to handle in the Toronto Raptors, 83-75. However, DeMar DeRozan looked like a young Michael Jordan out there, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot as the Warriors didn't have anyone to match up with his size and speed. DeRozan is a streaky player who can carry a team offensively when he's on, I know cause he's on one of my fantasy teams, and he was certainly on Sunday! The young guard dropped a 25/4/4 line and went 6-6 from the line and 9-17 from the field. The Warriors started the game out well, and went into the half with a nice 10 point lead, but for some reason this team keeps coming out flat after the intermission! It's not the first time this has happened, the Warriors are making it a habit now of losing games they have control of or are leading at the end of 2 or 3 quarters of play. It's that 4th quarter that's killing this team as they just don't have that killer instinct. Watching the Lakers play the Heat yesterday, I saw that killer instinct in LA when they smelled the finish line with the lead, they made sure they held off, arguably, the best squad in the NBA despite a late-game surge. It certainly help to have a guy named Kobe on your squad, but even without Kobe, even without Steph Curry, this team has enough fire-power to beat the lowly Raptors, who where also without their star big man Andrea Bargnani!
Now, the Warriors get a real gift of a basketball game tonight as they take on the leagues worst up in DC. If they can't been the bumbling Wizards, than just maybe this team is worse than I thought and could very well end up with a top-7 pick. One thing to watch tonight will be the matchup at center between JaValle McGee, the guy I really want the Warriors to go after, and Ekpe Udoh, who's slowly, but surely finally found his way into the starting lineup. I cannot believe it took Mark Jackson this darn long to figure it out, but I guess he finally has given up on Andres Biedrins as the starting center for this team, and as long as health allows, Udoh should be cemented into that spot the rest of the year. Now, Udoh has slowed a bit since that breakout, 19 point/9 rebound game vs. the Clippers in his first career start, but I found it interesting that Jackson didn't begin using Udoh as the starter after he not only tamed Griffin and "Lob City" on the defensive end, but also showed he's got some skills of his own on the offensive end. Since that game, Udoh has averaged just 7 points and 4 boards because early fouls have limited his playing time (35 minutes vs. LA, then only 16 minutes the following game). On that logic, I can see why Jackson has stuck with Biedrins as the starter, but that's really the only thing holding Udoh back right now. I always knew the kid could rebound and defend, but I didn't know he had these offensive moves that he's displayed over the last couple of weeks.