For a team that has built themselves, and their legacies, on statement games, the Golden State Warriors have yet to have a single one this season. Whether it be superstars sitting, apathy, or a complete beatdown like Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it has become increasingly frustrating. For fans. A team that has been to 3 straight NBA Finals, won two of them, and still hold the best record in the league, the players don’t seem bothered.
After the game, Kerr’s exasperation, however, spilled to the point of actually calling the starters out, saying that they were “the main culprits..pressing too hard, and trying to make too many plays.” It was subtle but telling. There were “not enough extra passes, too much isolation.” He went on to assign the blame most fans and his own guys had of the refs, back to the players. There may have been some bad calls but make no mistake, the Warriors got blown off the court because of their own play and nothing to do with anyone else.
They’re now 1-4 against Houston and Oklahoma City, 1-1 against the Boston Celtics, and 2-0 against the quickly dysfunctioning Cleveland Cavaliers. Regardless of whether a team cares or not about the regular season, one would think a sense of pride would take over even during the ruts. Kevin Durant admitted, “They just came out with a lot of energy, and we didn’t.”
Curry was surprisingly dismissive of Westbrook’s performance, “We can withstand that. Especially just one guy dominating the ball. We talk about it all the time, we are talented enough to withstand individual efforts like that but we can’t when we’re turning the ball over like that.” Overall, neither he nor Durant broke out of their monotone, speaking mostly about their own issues with spacing and turnovers and trying to force the issue too often. More than that, he blamed himself for not controlling the tempo and flow.
“This isn’t anything we haven’t been through in the last 3 years.”
On the court, however, there was nothing in the play of the Warriors that even resembled energy and force. Steven Adams start the game with multiple offensive rebounds and Russell Westbrook smashed the Warriors PNR defense into submission. Then Paul George finished them off with highlight after highlight, taking advantage of a Warriors bench that was too inept to score, and not disciplined enough to defend.
There are leakages, to be certain. But right now it appears there’s a bit of a two-way battle in how the players view the situation versus the coach. Steve Kerr isn’t adjusting his rotations to allow the players to run right through the problems. And the players aren’t curtailing their mistakes, instead content to rattle off the same turnovers, defensive misalignments, and sluggishness over and over again. There isn’t a side to take. Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and the rest of the team have been through this more often than anyone in the NBA. Steve Kerr is the coach and player that’s been through two dynasties now and counting, from all sides of an organization. They’re in the midst of three losses in four games. Last year’s team lost 3 games in a row against Boston, Minnesota, and San Antonio before reeling off 14 wins in a row to end the season. The longer this run lasts, the quicker they’ll appear to burn out at times, with this stretch happening before the All-Star Break.
The Houston Rockets are now tied in the loss column. The Warriors can’t win a big regular season game. It suddenly appears this team destined for greatness never before seen has something to fight for in games they have deemed meaningless. Ahh, that’s pretty interesting, indeed.