If I have to hear another breakdown of the state of the world the last time the Golden State Warriors won in San Antonio during the regular season, I might go crazy.
You say iPhones weren't popular? Facebook wasn't even around yet? How did people complain about the refs during the game without twitter or post vines of Chris Mullin jumpers?
We get it: it's been awhile.
Besides wanting to see the Warriors end the San Antonio Spurs' home winning streak (we would have printed Bucks-like t-shirts in Warriors colors "The Streak is over!"), the Warriors wanted to end all the talk around the league that they are pretenders. The impact of this loss doesn't reflect the conversations it will bring. Golden State STILL HOLDS a three game lead in the standings. They STILL ARE on pace for the best record in the history of a regular season. All that said, the conversation now is "Can Curry perform against Popovic's defense?" and "Have the Warriors been exposed?"
The answer to both of these questions is hopefully and optimistically "no".
We have seen it time and time again over the last two years: sure Golden State has been dominant, but they also respond to adversity so much better than teams give them credit for. After the loss in Detroit, they responded with a whooping in Cleveland and Chicago. After the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, they won 11 of the next 12. The staff has these guys focused, prepared and aware of the work they have to put in.
With confidence the team will recover, this only leaves the concern for the fans.
Those who watched all 48 minutes of that defensive slugfest have to be waking up and going through the four stages of losing to the Spurs. It's a common process: they have won 44 straight home games, so much like the Warriors, many teams walk away from their games scratching their heads. We break down those stages of grief and let fans know "Hey guys! It will be ok!"
Stage #1: Anger
The refs sucked last night! Danny Green traveled! So did Kawhi on the pass in the 4th!
Ok, sure. The refs didn't have the greatest of nights last night. They blew a few calls around the hoop, but in all honestly they missed calls in both directions. Let's call it equal opportunity horribleness.
The more important feature of their bad officiating was the slapfest that they allowed on Steph Curry. Danny Green, Tony Parker and Patty Mills were allowed to play "I'm touching you" all night long sticking with Curry and simply getting in his head. Other teams that employ this technique are the Los Angeles Clippers with Chris Paul, and they too seem to get away with the all night mugging. Call this a "Curry Defense", but there are hand check rules for a reason, and nobody seemed to care about them. The Spurs finished with a 15-8 advantage at the line, but many of those came at the end of the game. This game was pretty much called "hands off" for most of the evening, and the low score showed.
Well everyone, the Spurs won't be able to get away with it in Oakland. And if the refs set the tone early after Kerr makes them aware of it next time, they won't be able to get away with it in SA either.
Stage #2: Causality
Well of course the Warriors lost! They were missing Iguodala! They were missing Bogut!
This is quite true. If you add in Festus Ezeli, you are talking about three core role players in the Warriors rotation. That is a big number of minutes and vet leadership coming off the bench.
However... would Andrew Bogut have seen much of the floor? The Warriors started with an augmented version of the lineup-of-death with Brandon Rush at the 4, Draymond Green at the 5. Bogut MIGHT have seen some time, but like the NBA finals, he becomes less effective in certain matchups. Look at the other side of the court: Tim Duncan didn't get the start for the 3rd time in his career. He scored one point.
This might not have been an optimal game for big men. Iguodala was missed, but maybe not as much as you think. Rush played great defense all night long and ended the night with the best shooting numbers on the team. The second unit runs a better offense with Iguodala on the floor, so his impact will be felt in more subtle ways than scoring, but Rush did fill in admirably.
Teams are never at full strength. To blame this loss on Iguodala and Bogut missing is a bit short-sighted, but still has some merit. The Warriors had their core three all-stars, and that was enough to keep them in this game until late into the fourth quarter.
Stage #3: Dismissal
This game didn't mean much. It was on the back end of a back-to-back and 5 games in 7 days. The playoffs will be different.
Yes, the Warriors have a tough schedule right now. This Texas trip is not an easy one to handle after a long season, in the middle of a rush of games heading toward the end of the season. They played a high-paced game in Dallas on Friday before heading the San Antonio in prime time, and predictably their jumpers weren't going in as effectively as hoped.
The playoffs however will be quite similar. Add in another 15 games of regular season, then the process of getting through 2-3 more series before the Warriors will possibly face the Spurs again. Fatigue is always a factor, however these are professional NBA players who play back-to-backs all the time. Curry even sat out the 4th quarter on Wednesday against the Knicks, and in reality played 37 minutes of the game last night. He should have been ready, and even admitted it was more his shooting touch being off than fatigue.
The concern here is that the Warriors try to shoot their way out of trouble. If the threes are not falling - 9-for-36 on the night - they need to keep attacking the basket to manufacture shots. The Spurs can focus in on the outside shooting if you show that you will settle for a three before attacking the hole and getting to the line. Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson - these players need to attack the basket to keep San Antonio honest. The Warriors cannot become one-dimensional when it counts.
Stage #4: Acceptance
Ok... these Spurs are pretty good
Yea. They are. There is no shame in losing to a good team. There is shame in losing to the Lakers in L.A., but not to the Spurs on in San Antonio where they win consistently.
The Warriors had the lead in the fourth quarter, grinding out baskets and playing fantastic defense. They found ways to score even when Curry was shooting horribly. They were a missed Andy Varejao hook away from taking a lead, before the Spurs grabbed the board, ran the floor and stole the momentum with a quick layup, then a follow up three. They came back from 11 points down in a place where you are not supposed to find momentum. Golden State was out rebounded 53-37 as the Spurs created one-and-dones and let watched Golden State shoot themselves into the loss.
The shots will fall in the rematch. So will the calls. Both teams will be healthy, and these games will live up to the hype. Nobody loves to lose, but everyone was treated with the high-IQ basketball that we were hoping for. The good news? The Warriors get another shot at stopping the Spurs winning streak in three short weeks. And this time, it might be for the single-season wins record.
I can only begin to imagine the stages of grief Spurs fans will be going through if we beat them then...