There was a moment in the first half when I sat on media row — lamenting the fact that the Golden State Warriors would blow out another mediocre basketball team and I'd sit around with nothing much to do for an entire half — that I decided to start worrying about the team's offense.
The defense is what it is, for lack of a more astute phrase, at this point. They can go small, stay big, and turn it up whenever they need to, especially in crunch time. But seemingly for the past few weeks, the Warriors have struggled mightily trying to sustain the high-flying flow offense that's crushed the entire league seemingly at will.
But first, the good: a 119-113 victory over the Orlando Magic where they broke the NBA record for most home wins in a row at 41.
And now the fun stuff.
They've gone through these slumps before. Andre Iguodala floats in and out of his 3pt shot. Harrison Barnes was superb before an ankle injury and is now battling some of that combined with his normal mental blocks. Draymond Green has averaged less 3pt shot attempts since Steve Kerr has returned as The numbers themselves are masked by Stephen Curry's brilliance but even the overall play is starkly different from the pummeling witnessed earlier this season and the entirety of last year.
Kerr praised his team after for breaking another NBA record but had some choice words for his team.
"We lost focus on both ends...There were several switches against 3 pt shooters, we didn't get out on. That was lack of concentration. We played harder than yesterday, but not that much smarter."
The players in the locker room had different takes on the game, though nothing of note. Klay Thompson noted that no team can beat the Warriors when they are at their peak, something he's mentioned several times in arrogantly fun fashion.
Draymond Green, on the other hand, lamented his own "awful" play and didn't excuse the strep throat as an excuse. However, it is prudent to point out he had to receive an IV because he could barely take liquids after the game. That could, amongst other things, explain the 0 3pt shooting attempts in 30+ minutes.
But the most important quote of the night as Steve Kerr went Full Phil Jackson when asked whether this bad play after the All-Star Break is due to injuries,
"It is not injuries. Whoever is out there should be productive and solid and efficient. I think it's a matter of taking things for granted. It's like the game is coming too easy. We're winning. Steph is bailing us out an awful lot. He bailed us out tonight. We can't count on that. We can't rely on that We need to get back to being the best defensive team in the league which we were a year ago. We are not right now, anywhere close. We've got to take care of the ball. We've got to have a collective mindset to take care of the ball and be sharp defensively and we've gotten away from it."
There's always been a little of both legendary coaches to Kerr. As it appears some of his Pop-esque stringent rules has backfired with the reigning in of Green's confidence, his shots at his own team through the media hearkens back to Jackson-esque mind games.
The Warriors are in a tough spot, or as relatively rough as can be for the league's best team. Injuries, slumps, and the boring stretch of an unnecessarily long season have created a perfect confluence of factors that's causing close wins instead of aesthetically pleasing blowouts.
Steve Kerr knows what this team is made of, what makes them tick, and what they need to shore up before these games really start to count in April. For now, he's stretching further and further and letting the leash out a bit longer. Sooner or later, and it appears the time is coming, he's going to have to rein them back in. After the blowout in Los Angeles, the mediocre play in the past couple weeks, Kerr knows it's nearly time to start running on all cylinders again.
And he'll find a way to get the message across.