The Warriors new mantra, "Defense Travels Well" (or DTW for short), and they better hope it travels with them today on the beginning of a four-game road trip. Coincidentally, DTW is also the acronym for the international airport in southeast Michigan. So if the Warriors, who arrived yesterday, forgot how Coach Keith Smart wants them to play, they needed only to step off the plane to be reminded that defense is what helped them get that grind-out win versus the Utah Jazz.
The Warriors begin their first road trip of the season, which everyone on the team seems to understand will determine whether their 4-1 record is for real or a fluke:
"This is going to our biggest test right here," guard Monta Ellis said. "It's the first time we're going on a road trip, and there are some winnable games. We just have to play hard as a team with scrappy defense, like we did" Friday.
Communication seems to have been a priority for the Warriors this season and any player versus coach issues reminiscent of previous Warriors teams (Don Nelson vs. name any player to get shipped out recently) has been squashed immediately. The David Lee brief sideline spat with Coach Keith Smart was dealt with and when recounted seemed like a huge misunderstanding. Lee recalls:
I said "You're right. I should have finished it. What was I thinking?"
He said, "Well finish it next time."
I said (voice raising), "Well, I'm trying to finish it!"
He said, "You've been finishing."
I said, "All right. Well, I'm trying."
The spat was probably far from a spat. But these kinds of elliptical conversations of support yet dissent may be part of their success...and possibly what this Detroit Pistons team needs.
As various media outlets have already reported, the Pistons team seems to hate each other the way that previous Warriors teams, as Dre Biedrins described, used to be. The Rodney Stuckey-Coach John Kuester feud, the Charlie Villanueva versus Kevin Garnett distraction, and Tayshaun Prince fighting with fans have become the backdrop for tonight's game, which could make them the perfect opponent for the Warriors to begin their road trip.
Once a team of titans, today's Pistons team, with it's on and off-court bickering, seems to be a far cry from the tough bad boy imagery of their best teams. Preseason sleeper Austin Daye has yet to play up to the expectations. Rookie Greg Monroe has played well, but in limited minutes. The Tracy McGrady experience has yet to get have any legs -- literally and figuratively. But, McGrady did play well in the starting point guard role in Stuckey's absence.
The Warriors are back at "full strength" meaning that Brandan Wright is back from his bout with stomach flu and Curry wlll play, though, not completely hundred percent. But if last Friday was any indication, the Warriors will need Ellis AND Curry to have any success against playoff teams. I'm sure this applies to the hostile places they will travel on the road, too.