“I do what master say.” In one of the most remarkable quotes of the NBA season, Andre Iguodala exposed the small little secret that has been plaguing the Golden State Warriors all year, that the players might not be too happy with Steve Kerr’s decision-making all season. The offensive scheme, the substitutions, and who they tried to sign and refused to sign. Though Iguodala explained after that this was an inside joke amongst the players, the saying “there’s a grain of truth in every joke” has never rang more true.
In the 102-101 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the issues didn’t particularly expose themselves. The problems mostly lie on the players themselves. The turnovers, the unforced errors, the rookie mistakes from veterans, and the continued poor shooting came back to bite them in another close crunchtime loss.
On the flip side, one can excuse this as the perfect storm for the worst stretch in a Warriors regular season since the Mark Jackson era. The shocking news of the Kevin Durant injury, the epic Curry shooting slump, and the 8 games in 13 nights across 65 different countries have culminated into a basketball team that is tired, listless, and searching for answers.
For those that want to assign blame to something for this wary stretch, the oscillation between what is normal across most teams in the NBA landscape and what isn’t in the past couple years of this charmed Warriors story has everyone rattled.
For the past half decade, the answer to all questions has been the singular force of Stephen Curry. Whether it be his ankle, his gravity, his jump shot, his poise, and his leadership, he’s the joker and trump card all rolled up into one. Even with Durant, they functioned at their finest when he excelled. With KD now out, he’s struggling more than ever and not so much to the focus of the defense than his own problems.
Kerr is entrusting some more of the offense to him and Curry is shooting at a career-worse percentage after the break, under 30%. It’s been quite the year for Curry, someone who handed the keys over to Durant, had his shoe company, Under Armour, essentially undermined by Durant’s Nike brand. Along with the struggles to start the season came his benching on Christmas Day, then a very rare public voicing of plea to handle the ball more.
All this has led to a very weird moment for this Warriors team fighting to keep ahold of the one-seed. They’ll be fine regardless. Another loss, this one a blowout to a just as depleted San Antonio Spurs squad puts the Warriors just a half-game ahead for the one-seed.
The questions around Kerr’s control of the locker room, Steph’s slump, and the first extended losing streak in the last three seasons has the Golden State Warriors in a very familiar position as only the pre-LIght Years fans will know. Either they fall apart as most hardcore fans are accustomed to, or this is a simply bump in the road on their way to the greatness they seemed so certain to reach.