How the Warriors can clarify the state, the identity in the big game against the Celtics

How the Warriors can clarify the state, the identity in the big game against the Celtics

Three games past the halfway point of the season, the Warriors still don’t know what they are. Contender or contender? The nervous template that gave a drink to the devastated Celtics in December? Or the nonchalant crew that nine days ago got slapped by a gang of Phoenix backups?

Well, the serious search for the truth begins Thursday against the Celtics in Boston, where grudges live forever.

It is a rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals, the marquee match of the night, on national television. The sold-out crowd at TD Garden will be as menacing as the law allows, with a few lubricated enough to ignore local penal codes.

“We know it’s going to be electric,” Jordan Poole told reporters after practice Wednesday in Washington DC, before the flight to Boston.

The Warriors are smart enough to realize that despite the hype, this shouldn’t be viewed at this point as a preview of the 2023 NBA Finals.

“Where we’re 22 and 22,” coach Steve Kerr said, referring to Golden State’s record. “We’re .500. We’re not good enough right now to see it as a possible meeting in the future. That would be great, we’d love to.

“But we have to get better before we start thinking like that.”

where are the warriors Living under a pile of inconvenient facts designed for humility. They have had a five-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak. They have been swept (0-2) by the Orlando Magic for the first time since 2013 and (0-2) by the Pistons for the first time since 2009. They are 0-3 against the Suns, with each loss. by two digits.

Kevon Looney hopes his teammates can take inspiration from what the Celtics accomplished last season. They went 22-22 over the first 44 games before posting a 29-9 record over the final 38 games.

“When you think about it, with what they had to go through last year to find their identity, go on a run and finish second in the East, we have the same goal,” he said Wednesday. “We’re right there, a few games away from having a high seed and a few games away from being out of the mix.

“So it’s our time of year. We’ve been talking about putting games together all year, but now is the time to do it.”

If there’s one team with the ingredients to coax all the spirit and venom out of Golden State, it’s the Celtics, whose 33-12 record is the best record in the NBA. They have seven consecutive victories, an MVP candidate in Jayson Tatum and a Coach of the Year candidate in Joe Mazzulla.

Also, the Celtics have bitter memories of last June, when they took a 2-1 lead in the Finals, but lost Game 4 to Stephen Curry’s 43 points and never won again. In six days, they went from sniffing a 3-1 lead to making vacation plans.

Plus, Boston has the extra chip on their shoulder that came with a 16-point loss last Dec. 10 at the Chase Center.

While the motivational backdrop is on the Celtics’ side, the Warriors are determined to fix all the things that have kept them around .500 all season. Slow starts Live ball changes. Defensive breakdowns. mental lapses Not maintaining the discipline of the game plan.

Propensity to pollution.

RELATED: Kerr proclaims Steph was “made to be the face” of the Dubs franchise

It’s a lot, and it explains a lot.

“We have to improve in a lot of areas,” Kerr acknowledged. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we can do it. (Thursday) with Boston and the next night against Cleveland, those are two big challenges for our team to try to move forward and get back to the position where we’re one of the teams again of the league’s elite.

“We’re not there right now.”

When the Warriors step on the floor at TD Garden, they will be decided underdogs. Win or lose, they’ll be one step closer to clearing their status when they leave the floor.

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