At this point in the Golden State Warriors story, each and every game serves as a cautious reminder that none of these actually tell us much beyond the scope of them as the greatest team in the world outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers. They could start a game down 20-0 and it’d be hard to glean much pertinent information. On Wednesday night, they stormed out to a 42-17 first quarter behind torrid shooting from everyone outside of Stephen Curry. And it told us nothing then, and so did the fall back to Earth in the subsequent three quarters.
While they strung the Toronto Raptors throughout the game, they fell victim to the same lackluster possessions in the fourth quarter. What hurt them against the Cavs reared its ugly head yet again. Trying to find the delicate balance between playing free and playing smart, the possessions fell drastically short. Curry had a gorgeous behind-the-back pass to Klay Thompson in the third quarter. But by the time the game entered the fourth, the rhythm was gone and the same isolations for Kevin Durant came and failed.
The topic of the day rode on the pick-and-the roll offense the Warriors seemed to abandon. Klay Thompson seemed to take offense to a question about their crunchtime sets, answering, “You mean struggles in just the last two games?”. The usual platitudes of more ball movement and situational awareness followed.
Draymond Green talked about getting back to their “drag sets” that they used so often in years previous. Finally, Kevin Durant bemoaned his own overpassing tendencies. The Warriors are in a spot where there are plenty of time and situation to remedy these issues. Curry got more touches as a playmaker and looked a little more like his MVP self, even pointing at the floor before pulling up from way behind the 3-pt line, LaMelo Ball-esque.
There are glimpses into what the Warriors might and can become. They are the best offense in the league and one of the greatest of all time. It’s just that the personnel itself allows them to get them there regardless. They have yet to fully realize what they can actually do even in games where they drop a 121-111 final score on 57% shooting from the field and 61% from 3.
Durant is the best player on the team but to get where the greats have heaps of stories written about them, they need an engaged and unleashed Stephen Curry to get them there. The Warriors are still working on finding an identity at the end of games but tonight was a small step towards realizing the dream yet to come.