Dubs Lead

Dubs’ Christmas Success an Epitome of What’s to Come?

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For the past few seasons, Warriors Christmas games have been a holiday treat. They’ve been the marquee matchup of every holiday schedule and produced some exciting finishes. The Warriors Christmas games featured battles like Stephen Curry vs Chris Paul and Kevin Durant vs LeBron James.

This season it all changed. After fans spent years seeing their Warriors Christmas stockings filled with Larry O’Brien trophies, Santa Claus has been busy delivering them coal since June.

But in a season seemingly designed by the Grinch, the spirit of Christmas delivered a holiday gift no one saw coming.

The game against the Rockets had none of the familiar feelings of the Warriors’ Christmas past. It was a new arena, with new players, and a new underdog role. It felt like spending Christmas with extended family. Sure, they share the family name, but you barely know anyone and it’s uncomfortable being inside a home nicer than yours.

At the start of the game, the empty arena seemed to symbolize the empty feeling brought by this season. The conclusion seemed all but certain.

Then, the Christmas magic began.

The Warriors began the game on a 7-0 run, already a Christmas miracle. The Christmas spirit filled Damion Lee, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. It fueled D’Angelo Russell’s highlight-filled 20-point night. It even limited Harden to just one free throw attempt all game, his fewest of the season.

But the biggest miracle of all, came from the cheers of the fans inside the Chase Center.

The Warriors’ move to San Francisco was criticized for abandoning the fans who earned their arena the nickname “Roaracle”. Although the move was just across the Bay, it feels like they’ve moved to a different world. With fans priced out of the glitzy new arena, a quieter fan base has emerged.

When the giant jumbotron flashed a graphic encouraging fans to stand up, everyone remained seated. The first sound of the trademark Warriors chant didn’t arrive until the third quarter. Ky Bowman sprinted the length of the floor to bank in a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter. Barely anyone stood.

Then the arena staff passed out thundersticks to the fans. Their noise echoed off the still new arena walls, the loudest sound of the day. Fans began cheering. Then they started standing. The “defense” chants became louder. As the spirit of Christmas filled the arena, so did the chants of “Let’s go Warriors”. With the Warriors down by one with seven minutes to go, a rare feeling overcame the fans in Chase Center, made possible by the holiday spirit. It was a feeling of hope.

That hope led the Warriors on a 16-2 run to take back the lead. A couple of Draymond Green three pointers sealed the victory and sent the fans into a frenzy. The Warriors had stolen Christmas from the Rockets and James Harden, basketball’s own version of the Grinch.

The win gave the Warriors their first three-game win streak of the season. It’s too late for it to matter in terms of playoffs, but the motivation should propel the development of two-way contract players Bowman and Lee. Both players had strong outings, an encouraging sign alongside Green’s rediscovered three-point shooting.

In a season of disappointment, this should encourage a team and a fanbase focused on next season. The new guys proved they can step up in big games, a much needed trait for next year when the team will be healthy and the games will matter.

For a brief moment, Christmas day in the Chase Center felt like Oracle Arena. The victory brought a refreshing feeling of Christmas glee. The rest of this season, families will gather around the fireplace telling the legend of this game. There isn’t much else to talk about this season but that’s no longer a worry to fans. For on this holiday afternoon, A Warriors Christmas Story was born:

‘Twas the afternoon of Christmas

When the Beard was outscored

Mighty Oracle was dead

But the Chase Center roared

 

Follow us on Twitter @DubsLead for the latest Warriors news and insight.

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