The Warriors are sliding down the standings and it doesn't look to be getting any easier with their current road trip, or "graveyard," as CSN Bay Area's Matt Steinmetz is calling it. The struggles are obvious on the court and it is clearly showing in the standings.
Stephen Curry's struggles this season seem to be magnified by the issue that they lack an adequate backup that can manage games. Oddly as a result, rookie favorite-slowly-becoming awkward scapegoat, Jeremy Lin, has become targeted more and more as an issue in the Warriors rotation because of this. I understand a team-is-a-team and that all the pieces need to fit together -- through development of predetermined skills that they're bringing to the table -- but this seems a little unfair that Jeremy Lin, as unready as he is, is portrayed by Steinmetz as putting everyone in an "awkward spot."
Granted, he has been terrible. And he is taking up a roster spot. But honestly, how tiny is his partially guaranteed contract in the scheme of things if he were to get cut? And also, why haven't we talked about how terrible Charlie Bell been at any position on the floor, who has played more minutes than Lin? I'm not making excuses for Lin, but Curry's struggles suddenly becoming Lin's responsibility or fault seems a little bizarre to me.
Here's what Coach Keith Smart said the other day (via Rusty Simmons):
Asked about his search for a backup point guard, Warriors coach Keith Smart said. "I'm next." The Warriors have tried Charlie Bell, Reggie Williams and Jeremy Lin. "As for finding a backup, I'll leave that to the other side of the office, and I'll keep developing what we have at the moment."
At any rate, every guard in the rotation will suffer at hands of Russell Westbrook whose game has elevated to the heights of his amazing dunks. With Kevin Durant out with injuries, Westbrook has averaged nearly a triple double in his absence, putting up 29 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds per game.
His size, strength, and defense will be a problem for Stephen Curry who struggled to score on the point guard that he has been compared to since entering the draft, Steve Nash: Mr. All Offense, No Defense.
It's unclear whether Durant will return tonight as Westbrook and friends seem more than capable of handling the Warriors. Although their record at 13-7 has not reflected the hype that critics and fans assumed that they would be playing at, the Warriors road record doesn't give any indication that they'll pose much of a threat regardless if matchups are in their favor.
My guess for which unexpected Thunder player to blow up against the Warriors is going to be "Serge Ibaka." He's a great hustle player and has shown steady improvement in his second year. With his size at 6'10, I imagine the Warriors will have a hard time defending him in the paint or preventing him from going after alley-oops. Expect the same from Westbrook as well.