Ethan Skolnick: ‘Warriors Are So Likable’

When your starting center is held scoreless and you still win Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, you know you’ve got a pretty good team – with a strong emphasis on the word “team.”

“I think what you see is how may different ways Golden State can beat you,” Turner and Bleacher Report senior NBA writer Ethan Skolnick said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “You look at tonight. They just had too many ways to play. They can play big and when they’re not getting anything out of (Andrew) Bogut or he gets in foul trouble, they go small and they’re absolutely devastating that way. This game turned with (Shaun) Livingston and a small group in there, and the crowd starts to get into it. i don’t think people really fully recognize at this point how good this team is.”

The Warriors, who beat the Rockets 110-106 on Tuesday, went 67-15 during the regular season and are now 9-2 in the playoffs. That’s a total of 76-17 (.817).

“It doesn’t even look that hard for them sometimes,” Skolnick said. “It just looks like they’re waiting for an opportunity to explode. The only team I can compare them to is the team I covered – the Heat team that won 66 in 2012-13. But that was prime LeBron, probably his best season ever, Wade closer to his prime than he is now – and I still don’t know how they would handle this Golden State team. So they are tremendous. Right now, (I’ll) take Golden State. You can have the field. I don’t see a way that the Warriors don’t win a championship this year.”

The Warriors seemed to be sleep-walking through the first half Tuesday, trailing by 16 points in the second quarter. They still led by three at halftime.

It was like they were just toying with Houston.

“Yeah, it seems like it,” Skolnick said. “The lineups that they can go with, they’re so versatile. That’s really the biggest thing. Draymond Green allows them to play so many different ways. You’re talking about two guys that don’t even get big minutes. (Andre) Iguodala and David Lee are two of the highest-paid players on the team. David Lee hardly plays. Iguodala has had a role for them this season, but he’s not one of their core four guys this year. (Steve) Kerr has done a masterful job getting guys to buy in and to play a certain style and adjust styles when he needs to.”

Iguodala and Lee combined for six points in 27 minutes in Game 1. Curry led all scorers with 34, Livingston had 18, Klay Thompson had 15, Harrison Barnes had 14 and Green had 13.

It was a team effort.

“The thing about this team, they’re so likable,” Skolnick said. “The NBA is really sitting on a gold mine here with this group. They’re a bunch of guys that project very well for the media, starting with Curry (and) a bunch of others that are like that. They’re in a market that is a big market that has kind of been an under-tapped market because the team has not been consistently good over the years. They’re moving to San Francisco within the next three years if they can finally get that arena built. This is a potential monster – not just for this year, but for several years down the line. If they can get Draymond Green signed to an extension, which I think they’ll do – Curry is under contract at a relatively cheap rate. They got Thompson’s deal done. They’re just in great position going forward and they’re going to get David Lee’s contract off the books soon. So this isn’t a one-year deal here. This team has a chance to make a four- or five-year run.”

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