After 12 years in the NBA you would expect a player to start to slow down, but when your nickname is the ‘Brazilian Blur,’ that’s probably not going to happen. Finally playing for a championship contending team like the Warriors after years of toiling with lottery contenders, Leandro Barbosa seems to have mistaken himself for a bottle of fine wine and has improved with age.
Having spent time with the Spurs, Suns, Pacers, Raptors and a detour back to Brazil throughout his career, the path to a championship hasn’t be easy for the explosive guard. Last season Barbosa was finally able to live out the dream of every player in the league as he was a part of the 2014-15 Warriors championship team.
Playing on a team that has been smashing NBA records throughout the season, Barbosa has played an integral role coming off the bench to stabilize the Dubs as they have needed him. Over the past month Steph Curry has had some tough nights out – by his standards – but for the Warriors, Barbosa has stood up and unleashed an explosion of quick points that has saved their team.
“I’ve been with the team for two years and the chemistry is really good. We know each other really well and I just try to come in and open up some space so they [Curry and Klay Thompson] can knock down some shots.” said Barbosa.
As the playoffs approach, Coach Steve Kerr has been leaning on Barbosa to play some extra minutes down the stretch to give his starters some rest, and the Brazilian is excited about the challenge. “If I do, I’m more than happy to do that. I don’t have any problem at all playing extra minutes. I feel good and I’m healthy, and if I have to, I’ll be there to help the team.”
After walking away from Tuesday’s battle against the Washington Wizards unscathed, Golden State are now only six wins away from breaking the Chicago Bulls record for most wins in a season. They are going to have their work cut out for them if they are to take away another piece of Bulls’ history. With games against Dallas, Portland, Boston, Memphis twice and San Antonio twice, the Warriors can’t afford to take anyone lightly.
When asked if the team is starting to think more about breaking the Bulls record Barbosa told us: “Not at all. We’re just playing the game, trying to have fun every time we’re out there. Of course we want to try to break the record, but we don’t want to put that on our back. So we are just going with the flow.”
Tuesday night also marked the Warriors 54th straight regular season home win (that’s 35 straight this season and 18 to end last season), as well as racking up their 67th win of the season, tying their franchise record win total which was set last season. It seems like every game the Dubs are breaking some sort of record, and it’s not looking like they plan on changing that anytime soon.
Having not lost on their home floor in over a year, as time goes on it seems to be getting tougher for visiting teams to play in Oracle Arena. The fans are loud, passionate, and aren’t afraid to let an opposition player know that he’s on Warriors’ ground.
TNT’s Kenny Smith said before Wednesday’s game that he came to watch the greatest show on earth, and every single person in attendance seemed like they agreed with that statement.
Speaking about the Warriors’ home court advantage, Barbosa said: “It’s really important. We know how we did it last year, and how important it was to have all the games finishing at home for the playoffs, and that’s what we’re trying to do and hopefully we’ll finish the season really tough and well.”
Contenders have been few and far between for the defending champs this season as every time a team is expected to challenge them they have been made light work of. Sitting only only four games behind the Dubs with a record that in any other season would see them dominating the league, the Spurs have shown that they can mix it up with the best in the league on their home court. But are they the biggest threat heading towards the business end of the season?
Talking about their upcoming schedule and facing some tough opponents over the coming weeks Barbosa said, “We’re not worried about anyone. What we’re trying to do right now is just have the home court advantage which really important for the playoffs, and just trying to finish really strong at the end of the season.”
Another highlight for Barbosa this season has being able to get the chance to line up alongside his countryman, Anderson Varejao, thanks to a mid season trade that landed the former Cavs’ center right in the middle of their enemy territory. The Brazilian natives have been enjoying the chance to take the court together on a regular basis, and confusing their teammates as they have taken to speaking Portuguese on the practice court.
Barbosa says he has been enjoying their time together on the court. “We have been playing together for a long time and know each other very well,” he said. “Very happy to have him on the team now. Not only myself, my whole team is too. It’s a pleasure to have him here, and finally I have a guy that I can speak Portuguese with.”
Barbosa is on track to add that second championship ring to his collection as it’s not looking like anyone is going to be able to shut down the freight train that is the Warriors this season.