It’s amazing how things can change in a couple weeks. And then change again in another week. The Warriors’ season has shape-shifted twice now, so quickly that it’s almost like we imagined the weirdness in the middle.
At one point, the Warriors were blasting into a championship trajectory. They were 10-1 on Nov. 5, and were destroying opponents without working up much of a sweat. Stephen Curry looked like an NBA most valuable player again. Coach Steve Kerr was telling his players to relax and enjoy the ride, and they were listening.
Then Curry strained his groin while playing the Bucks on Nov. 8, and things went southerly, as they tend to when the diminutive superstar is out. And then they got worse. Much worse. At Los Angeles on Nov. 12, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green got in the most memorable shouting match since Archie Bunker went at it with Meathead, and it looked as though the Warriors were coming apart at the seams.
Durant seemed genuinely hurt by whatever it was that Green said to him in the Clippers game. Green seemed predictably miffed at the one-game suspension the Warriors slapped him with. And before you knew it, Golden State was spiraling into the first four-game losing streak of Kerr’s tenure.
That was less than a week ago. I know, it feels like a year or so, but the last of those four losses was last Wednesday.
Now? Everything is hummingbirds and orange blossoms again.
The Warriors weren’t at their best against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. But they were at their most exciting, erasing a 17-point halftime deficit, taking the lead for good with 1:19 left on a Kevin Durant finger roll and holding off the Magic down the stretch to preserve a 116-110 win.
That’s three fairly handsome wins in a row to launch the next road trip, and the situation may get decidedly better in short order. Curry might play as early as Thursday, and Green may follow soon after.
Monday’s win, against a solid young Orlando team, felt like absolution. It was the water that cleansed the Warriors after all that nasty drama.
“Yeah. I mean, I thought tonight was one of the best games of the year,” Kerr said. “You could feel the energy in the crowd, you could feel the competitive desire from our players, and you could feel it from the guys on the bench. Just huge energy. Yeah, we’ve moved on from that stuff.”
Curry practiced behind a drawn curtain Monday morning, which usually signals that he’s in the advanced stages of rehab. He shot around during pregame warmups that night, and was moving with agility as he accepted passes from assistant coach Bruce Fraser. Kerr confirmed that Curry will practice in full Tuesday and Wednesday. If nothing goes wrong on the court — and if people stop running into him on Highway 24 — the two-time MVP is likely to suit up against the soaring Raptors in Toronto on Thursday.
Green, who is nursing a toe injury, is more of a question mark. He is officially listed as day to day. But you’d have to figure he’ll be back soon.