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Ball Don't Lie

Jarrett Jack finds Draymond Green all alone to beat the Heat in last second (VIDEO)

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

On Tuesday, I mentioned that the Golden State Warriors may be in line to receive their first All-Star selection in 16 years this February. The reason for that, of course, isn't necessarily that they have an incandescent star impossible to ignore, but that they're playing really well. It's a big change for a franchise that's become synonymous with failure.

[Related: Michael Jordan may have neighbor even more famous than him]

Against the reigning champion Heat on Wednesday night in Miami, the Warriors notched their most impressive win of the season so far in thrilling fashion. With the score tied at 95-95, point guard Jarrett Jack — a new addition this offseason — found rookie forward Draymond Green all alone under the basket for a fairly simple pass and immediate lay-in. He got open largely because of an error by the Heat: As Klay Thompson curled off a screen, Shane Battier followed him instead of sticking with Green. Jack made an easy decision, the Warriors got the bucket, and LeBron James' turnaround attempt with 0.9 seconds left hit iron. When the opportunity presented itself, they took advantage and grabbed the 97-95 win.

In many ways, the circumstances of this play speak to what the Warriors have done well this season. After years of winning games by shooting astronomically high percentages or gambling on defense to force turnovers, the Warriors have turned into a workmanlike, effort-oriented outfit under the vision of head coach Mark Jackson and general manager Bob Myers. It's not particularly thrilling, and they're not the mind-altering highlight factory that the "We Believe" team was in 2007, but it almost doesn't matter. The Warriors exploit mistakes, work hard, and find ways to win. They've won the first five games of their current seven-game Eastern Conference road trip, and wins against the Magic and Hawks on Friday and Saturday, respectively, seem quite possible.

[Also: DeMarcus Cousins suspended one game for hitting O.J. Mayo in the groin]

The Warriors are by no means a sure bet to make the playoffs — their 15-7 record includes an average point differential of just +1.0 and the continual absence of Andrew Bogut could eventually catch up with them. Nevertheless, they're giving fans lots of reasons to be optimistic. Stephen Curry looks terrific and seems to be working through the ankle problems that derailed past seasons, David Lee is finally producing like the star he's paid to be, and young wings Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes improve with every game.

Perhaps most importantly, they've bought into what Jackson has preached. People know their roles, responsibilities, and the greater context of the team. It's not flashy, but it's working pretty darn well.

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