It's hard to truly encapsulate a single game on its own in the grand scheme of an 82-game basketball season. It's even harder to do so in the midst of a four-game losing streak midway through the season. It becomes near impossible to sustain some semblance of logic and reasoning after one of the best starts in franchise history.
So there's that. This game was kind of tough to watch. The last game of a four-game road trip, the Warriors came out tired, unmotivated, and outplayed in all aspects of the game en route to a quick deficit in the first quarter that snowballed into 20 by halftime.
The sloppy play started right from the onset, with a David Lee drive into an impossible shot behind the backboard, Stephen Curry turnover, and ending with a foul by Harrison Barnes on a fadeaway shot by Shawn Marion.
Ha, just kidding. It didn't end there. A myriad of comical errors sustained itself throughout the rest of the game, with Klay Thompson fouls on seven-foot Dirk jump shots, Klay's propensity to go Mickael Pietrus by stepping on the sideline out-of-bounds on drives, Lee's 4th foul straight out of halftime, Draymond Green airball (of course), and numerous unforced turnovers. But the worst? The lack of intensity on both sides of the floor.
We can easily attribute this to fatigue—and it would make a lot of sense in explaining the current ills—with four games in five days and 10th in 16 days. But when does small sample size become a trend? And when does that trend start to manifest itself and warrant legitimate concerns? In the past four games, the Warriors have allowed 103 three-point shot attempts. They've allowed 50 threes to rain down in those 103 attempts, good for 48.5 percent. That's an average of 12.5 makes on 25.75 threes a game.
According to TeamRankings, The Warriors only allow eight made threes per game on 23.5 shots. So what's the difference? The other team is just making more. And if we go to the tape, it appears the other team is starting to figure out the defensive rotations as well. Lee looks fatigued. Bogut's in and out rotation tendencies are making it hard on the team to have a consistent approach. WIth Bogut in, he never hedges on the pick-and-roll. But when everyone else is, they try to jump out on the ball handler as much as possible. That isn't the end-all, be-all, but it's hard to play consistently solid defense the way they did earlier in the season without a static rotation. Saying that, it could just be other teams simply making more threes. Very possible given the small sample size and the amount of games played in a short span.
As for the offensive side of the floor, when your most efficient slasher to the basket in the game is Richard Jefferson—yes, another dunk happened—it's never a good sign. For some odd reason, Curry took it upon himself to try and silence the critics who said the team needed a slasher to the basket. He kept shooting floaters, off-balance layups, and one-handed, one-legged jumpers. While fun in moderation, the crux of Curry's offensive game revolves on his ability to knock down the three-point shot. That's where the spacing begins, and the offensive gameplan wasn't executed all night.
The Jarrett Jack iso-game isn't preferred but it was probably needed tonight when the Mavericks were raining threes and running fastbreaks after turnovers. Earlier today, a fanpost on this site harped on the Harrison Barnes/Klay Thompson dilemma the Warriors were facing in the fourth quarter. The debate needn't start in the fourth today. Barnes needed more playing time from the onset. And Klay was as bad as he was in the Memphis Grizzlies game the day before. But even Barnes had his struggles throughout the game, hesitating on open shots and lacking a forceful dribble on pick-and-roll situations.
As for the bright side, David Lee's struggles shooting from midrange appeared to be a fluke, as he hit several over Dirk. The highlight of the night, and perhaps the other two blowout losses to Houston and Oklahoma City, has been the play of Kent Bazemore. He's raw, unpolished, and a four-year college player who is 23 years old. That's probably not good news for his NBA career trajectory but he's flashed enough ability on and off the ball to warrant more playing time, at least over Charles Jenkins. Along with Draymond Green, he was the only one that provided energy on the offensive and defensive end. Driving to the basket, chase-down blocks, and aggressiveness are enough to overshadow his lack of experience especially in defensive rotations and shaky jump shot.
Once Bogut is able to play more after the All-Star Break, he may need more playing time at the expense of David Lee and not Bogut. He was a part of the three-headed trio along with Green and Bazemore that brought the Warriors back to 13 before the Mavs put it away. He might not have the passing ability or awareness of Lee but his ability to finish down low in traffic meshes nicely with Bogut's ability to find players cutting to the basket.
I pose this question to end this depressing recap: