If this is not rock bottom for the Golden State Warriors, it might be as close as it gets for a regular season loss. Granted, what is worst-case scenario for the Warriors qualifies as some of the best performances for others teams across the NBA. But a team that set a historic baseline on offense to start the year, just dropped 86 points against the Boston Celtics and watched their vaunted system drag itself to a mere dozen points in the final quarter. With the rotations and decision-making all around, it was one of the most pathetic efforts from the coaching staff on down to the players.
It still remains to be said that this is just a meaningless March home game. In the midst of a challenging road trip with eight games across 13 days, this team deserves a bit of slack, especially given the shocking news of Kevin Durant. But it doesn’t excuse the James Michael McAdoo insertion and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’s absence in crunchtime. It doesn’t excuse another awful performance from 3 from Thompson and Curry, a combined 4-17. It doesn’t excuse a dreadful crowd that allowed MVP chants for Isaiah Thomas and barely a whisper when hometown favorite Matt Barnes checked in.
Real life doesn’t work like a video game. Without KD the Warriors won 73 games, captured a title before that, and nearly another one to cap off one of the greatest seasons of all time. With KD, they eclipsed a playoff spot but was on track to finish worse than a season before. Without him, a video game would simply revert Curry back to his MVP self, the bench to its scoring prowess, and a team that won 73 won rise from the injury. Instead, what’s ailed Curry has seeped into the Warriors’ current state of being.
The bench can’t score when he’s off the court. And when he’s on the court the floor is spaced but they miss some type of three-point shooting that was provided by Harrison Barnes. Instead, the likes of Patrick McCaw and Matt Barnes has left the Warriors searching for wayward passes around the perimeter and into nonexistent lanes near the rim. What was so unfathomably unguardable about the gravity Curry attracted and still attracts is cut down in half given the lack of talent around him.
Steve Kerr has unleashed the pick-and-roll in closer games, and mostly during the rest of the game. But Curry still isn’t in a great rhythm. The shot is off and that, for tonight, was more so on Curry than Kerr.
But it’s just one game, in March, and against a team that was fully healthy and treated this like the NBA Finals. The Warriors surely have issues, both in crunchtime and when Curry is off the floor. These are real issues, logically assuaged by the presence of Durant. But these haven’t prevented the Warriors from winning before, and they are now. Perhaps the regression was always coming for a team this great. Or perhaps it’s a blip in the road for fans used to sustained greatness. However the future holds, the Warriors are not coasting anymore. And that should make the rest of the season more suspenseful than ever before.