Are the Warriors – 5-2 in their last 7 games – gaining some momentum?

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Warriors have spent 50 regular season games looking for signs of themselves. Due to their inability to maintain a level of consistency, their veterans became skeptical. One game – even a long streak of decent performances – doesn’t move them.

“Ehh,” Draymond Green said. “We’ll see.”

The Warriors controlled Monday night’s game at Oklahoma City. They went up 38-20 in the first quarter, led by 21 in the second half, stabilized against a return of the youngster Thunder and pulled away for a pretty convincing 128-120 win. It’s the first time this season they’ve won back-to-back games on the road.

“Shit,” said Green, grimacing at the negative connotation of a positive stat.

It’s too early to say the Warriors’ problems are over. But there are at least hints of some building momentum. Their last seven games, in total, have been encouraging. They beat the Wizards on the road, lost in overtime at Boston, went to Cleveland without their starters and knocked out the riderslost a late lead to the Nets and have now won three consecutive victories over the Grizzlies, raptors and Thunder.

It’s a 5-2 stretch, enough to climb the ranks in a threat-free conference. At the end of the night, with their victory over the Thunder and Minnesotahome defeat against kingsthe Warriors swung with the Timberwolves in the standings and somehow found themselves the fifth seed, just half a game off fourth.

Klay Thompson dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. (Alonzo Adams / USA Today)

“I can’t really be obsessed with swings,” Steph Curry said. “Because you are one or two losses away from being 10th with the current ranking.”

Their veterans continue to fear that they are one bad night away from falling back into bad habits that have destabilized this season from the start. It’s a trend. But there have been at least shades of their best lately.

“The assist to rotation ratio was special tonight,” Klay Thompson said. “That could be an indicator.”

The Warriors had a reasonable 37 assists and 15 turnovers against a Thunder team that entered eighth in the NBA In defense. In the first quarter, they collected 15 assists on 15 baskets scored. It comes one game after he had 40 assists, just 12 turnovers and 129 points in an easy win over the Raptors.

“I think so,” Thompson said, delivering the highest level of veteran optimism when asked about possible momentum. “We are whole. I absolutely believe that great nights are on the horizon.

Together This is the key. Curry is nine games into his return and starting to produce like him early in the season. During that mini three-game winning streak, Curry scored 34, 35 and 38 points on 19, 21 and 20 shooting. After Toronto’s win, Steve Kerr said Curry looked like he had his “pop” back. In Oklahoma City, he scored 38, made eight 3s, sprayed about 12 assists and combined with Thompson, who scored 28 and made six 3s, to provide Thunder fans with haunting flashbacks.

But it was Andrew Wiggins’ Quiet Night that stood out the most. Wiggins has missed the previous two games due to another illness, meaning he has missed 18 of the previous 26 games and looked rusty on the nights he appeared.

“When he first came back he seemed a little shy,” Green said. “I don’t know if shy is the right word. But you’re just trying to find your legs, find your rhythm, find your places.

Wiggins shot a 3 to open the game against the Thunder, then went 6 of 9 the rest of the game inside the arc, taking back some of that touch on his floater and hook against smaller defenders. He also assumed some of the difficulties Shai Gilgeous-Alexander mission, handled it decently and added two blocks and a flight.

“He just looked like himself,” Kerr said. “He had a difficult journey between the injury and being sick a few times. He lost conditioning, lost rhythm. He trained well yesterday. You could see this coming.

Since Wiggins came out at the start of the season, Jonathan Kuminga has emerged. This will be the first series of games in which Kerr can deploy them together as a versatile defensive combination on the wing. Kuminga caused problems for Gilgeous-Alexander in the first half on Monday. Gilgeous-Alexander repaid it with a few buckets in the third quarter. But Kerr’s increased defensive option was visible. Donte Di Vincenzo also had a crack.

Kuminga and DiVincenzo are the established seventh and eighth men in a rotation that is getting longer behind the established sixth. Anthony Lamb was the ninth man on Monday night against the smaller Thunder. Green Ja Mychal closing in on rotation against bigger teams after some decent performances recently.

“It was a key game for us,” Kerr said. “Starting with a win gives us a good chance to rest tomorrow, get ready for Minnesota, attack this game and see what happens. Back-to-back in Denver will be tough with travel. So we needed this one tonight. Now we have to get greedy.

The Timberwolves are half a game behind the Warriors in the standings. They play Wednesday night. The Nuggets are the first in the West. The Warriors face them Thursday night in Denver. It’s fair to wonder if the Warriors will choose to rest their veterans against the Nuggets, even trying to maintain that elusive momentum.

“I campaign to play every game,” Curry said. “That’s the misconception about load management. It’s never the player who usually says, “Hey, I want to sit down. So for all the people who are worried about our league, all that stuff, it’s usually not the player who goes to the coaching staff and says, ‘I don’t have it tonight.’ It’s usually the other way around and there’s a lot of science involved. So, yes, I will campaign to play. But we’ll see how it goes.

Does he plan to succeed?

“Me, actually. I do.”

(Top photo of Andre Wiggins: Ian Maule / Getty Images)

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