SAN FRANCISCO — As the Golden State Warriors readjust to new expectations without Klay Thompson and continue to figure out life without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, they do so with the understanding that they’re still getting every team’s best shot each night because of what the group accomplished in the past.
After going to five straight NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019 and winning three championships, star guard Stephen Curry knows opponents are gearing up for the challenge of facing the Warriors the same way they always did, even if the players on the roster aren’t the same.
“100 percent,” Curry said during a video conference with reporters after Monday’s 137-106 win over the Sacramento Kings. “And that’s how it’s supposed to be. There are teams that were in the bubble, in the playoffs last year in both conferences that we’re going to be doing that to them. So it’s always the game within the game, and that competition’s exciting knowing that there’s a little bit more meaning based on what we did the last five years and other teams’ experience playing against us. That’s part of the journey. We love it.”
Both Curry and longtime teammate Draymond Green have never shied away from the pride they take in getting an opponent’s best shot each night. It’s a pride the pair continue to take with them as the Warriors, now 4-3, enter into a tough, early-season stretch in which five of their next seven games are against teams with a record above .500.
“We still have a long ways to go,” Green said. “We’ve played two good games. That’s great. But we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. This team, I think we have good potential, a lot of young guys, a lot of young talent that we can continue to build, and they’ll continue to grow and get better. But we’re a long ways off.
“Are we ready to compete with those teams? I don’t know. But we will compete, and that’s the thing.”
Green, who continues to make his presence felt on the defensive end as the engine of the young group, remains confident the Warriors can hold their own with any team in the league, no matter who is on the floor.
“I think if we compete, if we defend like we defend the last two nights, move the ball like we’ve done, I think we can play with anyone,” Green said. “We just got to make sure we continue to build, continue to learn the fundamentals, continue to learn each other and, most importantly, continue to build that trust that you need in order to be a good team.”
Curry, who has scored 92 points over his past two outings, has found his stride after a rough first week of the season thanks to the reemergence of Green.
Green missed the preseason and first four games of the regular season as part of COVID-19 protocols and was dealing with a foot injury.
His presence on the offensive end has helped create the space Curry needed to produce the two best games of his young season. The Warriors set an NBA season high with 41 assists in Monday night’s win.
“Draymond obviously has helped a lot in terms of getting us organized,” Curry said. “And especially when I get off the ball and starting again. And so [Sunday], started seeing pictures of it a little bit clearer and understand spacing and, obviously, guys have got to make shots, and everybody pitched in. It was a really good effort across the board, guys staying ready off the bench, and defensively, we gave ourselves energy and life from the beginning. On a back-to-back, you need that presence to get everything flowing, and then it translated to good offense.”