The Golden State Warriors’ 27-game winning streak has come and gone, but with four days off and a five-game home stand next on the horizon, it’s very possible point guard Stephen Curry and his pack can kick-start a brand new streak before Christmas Day.
"Obviously, nobody wanted it to end and you want every night for it to be another notch in that belt for the streak," Curry said, after the Warriors ended a grueling seven-game trip against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. "But ending up with our first loss, you can kind of appreciate what we were able to accomplish. I think we can re-focus on not just winning games, but how we’re playing. The last week or so, with the road trip and things, we just found ways to win games. But I don’t think we ever played our A-plus game."
Klay Thompson, who had returned to the lineup after sitting out a game with an ankle injury, expressed disappointment because he felt the Warriors had beat themselves.
"We missed shots," Thompson said. "They didn't shut us down, man. No one shuts us down."
Draymond Green described the streak as "pretty cool," but also felt a bit of relief. "Now we can focus on what we need to," he said.
The loss to the Bucks was one night removed from a tiring and thrilling double-overtime gauntlet at the Boston Celtics, the Warriors felt their first sting of regular-season defeat since April. Yet it’s not like the loss hurt Golden State’s standing atop the rest of the Western Conference. The Warriors still maintain a four-game lead over the second-place San Antonio Spurs, and they’re still the most explosive team in the NBA with 115.3 points per game, 48.7 field-goal percentage, and 42.5 three-point percentage, all the best in the league.
Starting with Wednesday’s visit from the 11-14 Phoenix Suns, there’s little reason to doubt the Warriors won’t string together more wins. Golden State bumped off Phoenix earlier this season 135-116 behind Curry’s 41 points and nine assists and a 22-for-38 night from three-point range on Nov. 27.
A similar outcome seems likely given the Warriors are one of only two teams with a perfect record at home. The Suns will enter Oracle Arena with a 4-8 road record compared to Golden State’s 10-0 mark in its house.
Next up is a visit from Milwaukee, which will be fueled by some factor of revenge after it stunted the Warriors run for glory. The Bucks are 2-10 on the road this season after dropping nine straight on opposing teams’ home courts.
Then there’s the 10-12 upstart Utah Jazz, a squad that sports a 5-7 road record and nearly shutdown Golden State’s run on Nov. 30. The young Jazz held Curry in check, forceing 15 turnovers, and actually outscoring Golden State 26-23 in the fourth quarter, but had no answer for the Warriors 14-for-29 night from beyond the arc and fell, 106-103.
But a Christmas Day showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers promises to be Golden State’s toughest game of the season thus far. In a rematch of last year’s Finals, the Cavs are enjoying a 15-7 start to the season despite point guard Kyrie Irving’s recovery from a knee injury. Cleveland’s gone 5-6 on the road, and it could have Irving back by Dec. 20 and then in time to face the Warriors.
The Warriors will wrap up their home stand against the 9-15 Sacramento Kings, a squad that’s won two straight and could present challenges to Curry. The Kings are reveling in the re-emergence of pass-first and defensive guru point guard Rajon Rondo, who leads the NBA with 11.0 assists per game, and power forward DeMarcus Cousins could also create matchup issues inside against Golden State.
Here's a look at the five-game homestand for the Warriors:
Phoenix Suns - Wednesday, Dec. 16 (ESPN; CSN Bay Area, FSAZ)
Milwaukee Bucks - Friday, Dec. 18 (CSN Bay Area, Fox Sports Wisconsin)
Utah Jazz - Wednesday, Dec. 23 (CSN Bay Area, ROOT)
Cleveland Cavaliers - Monday, Dec. 25 (ABC)
Sacramento Kings - Monday, Dec. 30 (CSN Bay Area, CSN CA)