There’s a fine line between what you want to do and what you are able to do. The Golden State Warriors are toeing that to the point of frustration for their fans this regular season. When they’re on, they’re as unstoppable as you can imagine, playing as by far the best team in the NBA. But most other times, and evidenced in Monday night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, they simply aren’t there yet. There being the place where they are unanimously playing as an elite level team. It’s hard to reach the San Antonio Spurs nirvana. Right now, the Warriors are reaching Cleveland Cavaliers levels of execution and gameplay.
There were flashes of greatness throughout the game. Draymond Green’s playmaking and 3-point shooting was some of the best we’ve seen all season. Unlike Klay Thompson’s floor game with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant out, Draymond seems to excel with more responsibilities. Andre Iguodala’s shooting seems to be slowly coming back to normalcy. Jordan Bell’s 5 minutes were spectacular (Steve Kerr after the game relented to needing to give him a few more minutes). A brief reprieve here to note that Oracle crowds get unreasonably rowdy when Jordan Bell is on a weakside hunting a block or following up a miss with a jam. It’s on Steph/Klay 3-point shooting levels in terms of anticipation. And Patrick McCaw was the star of the show, finishing with 16/7/3/4.
But the bad overwhelmed the good even in a close loss. They were genuinely outplayed and to the point where it felt like they were close to squeezing out a win at the end. Kerr enumerated after that the team blew two double-digit leads in the second and third due to lack of execution both offensively and defensively. And on the other side, the rotations had minutes with players that had never played enough, or rarely enough where they didn’t know where to be on offense or on defense. Nick Young and JaVale McGee were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. And Omri Casspi was so tired and ineffective by the end of the game, he was fouling three-point shooters in a 4-point game (up 4 late) that led to a 10-0 Kings run to end it.
If you are to cast blame, though in a late-November game with two MVPs missing it’s a foolish charade, it’s best to lay it at the feet of both Kerr and the players. It’s still extremely early and the Golden State Warriors are more a team that’s going to run on talent most of the time instead of the system. Their reliance on stars overrides the gorgeous backcutting offense they have in place.
There’s also an underlying notion here that Steve Kerr is fine with losses like these here and there anyway. Where is the fun and where is the challenge for the players if they just keep churning out blowouts throughout a season? It wears, it puts pressure, and exhausts a team that’s gunning for its 4th straight NBA Finals. A loss that is defined by the lack of offensive awareness and defensive execution allows a team to hone its craft on both ends, if only a contrived version of it all. But these Warriors are at the point where they have to create problems to find new answers anyway. And on a night where they didn’t have their two best players or their best game, they’ll need to make some stuff up along the way.