Remember Aesop’s Fable about the Tortoise in a foot race against the Hare? The Hare is super fast, the Tortoise is hella slow, and this contest appears to be a clear mismatch from the very beginning. As the story goes, the Hare jumps off to a humongous lead and apparently leaves the Tortoise behind for good.
However, the Hare is SO far ahead, that he gets overconfident/bored and collapses into a nap well before crossing the finish line. The humble, old school Tortoise then sloooowly creeps past the arrogant, slumbering Hare and into the lead with hard work and dedication. By the time that showboating Hare regains consciousness, he sees his opponent that he disrespected crossing the finish line. The moral of the tale? Say it with me folks: “Slow and steady wins the race”.
The Golden State Warriors sometimes come off as that overwhelmingly talented but foolish Hare. The last time they played a home game, they jumped out to a big advantage before falling into a coma and frittering away a 13-point fourth quarter lead. At least that game MAYBE could be excused by injury: NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala missed the game with back tightness and defensive player of the year Draymond Green missed the fourth with a left knee strain.
There would be no such excuses last night. The Warriors blew a 14-point third quarter lead against the Toronto Raptors at home. The Dubs were down five with two minutes to go in the 4th quarter with both Iguodala and Draymond playing. Here was surely yet another example of the over-confident Warriors losing focus and allowing another underdog to team steal a win at Oracle Arena, repeating ye olde fable.
Except in this iteration, the Hare wakes up with a pensive home crowd holding their breath as the Tortoise (Raptors) inches towards the win. The Hare angrily bolts over and kicks the Tortoise onto its back mere moments before it secured the victory. As the shocked Tortoise exhales his final death rattle, eyes bulging in disbelief, the Hare smugly shimmies while moonwalking the across the finish line. Final score Hare 117, Tortoise 112. Wait, Warriors 117, Raptors 112.
The moral of the story? STAY WOKE.
Inconsistent focus plagues champs
The start of this season has been rife with mental lapses and poor fundamental basketball.
I had to chuckle as I watched Stephen Curry tell the Warriors sideline reporter Keith Burke in the postgame interview, “If you make enough plays, you should have enough talent to win”. The Warriors have arguably the greatest collection of top tier talent in NBA history, and through the first fives games of the season they have relied heavily on their gifts over sound basketball.
Case in point: After 17 turnovers last night, this is the 5th straight game with 16 or more turnovers for the champs.
Do you recall The Athletic’s Anthony Slater writing before the pre-season about Dubs head coach Steve Kerr bringing renewed attention to the teams sloppy passing issues? Here’s my favorite stat from that article:
The Warriors were 33-3 last season, including the playoffs, when they committed 12 or fewer turnovers. Conversely, they were 50-13 when they had at least 13 turnovers.
Right now, the team has stumbled out the gates to a 3-2 record averaging 17 turnovers a game.
Draymond was the biggest culprit last night with six, and Klay Thompson was right behind him with four.
In addition, the Warriors were absolutely embarrassed on the boards. The Raptors recovered 17 offensive rebounds. The offensive boards in the 4th quarter were like gut punches for a restless Warriors crowd as the Raptors chipped away at the big lead. Those rebounds led to second chances that kept Toronto competitive when it appeared the Warriors were running away with the game.
“I think our conditioning is both mental and physical. I think our mental conditioning is not there and it just shows in a lot of different ways," Steve Kerr said. "Our execution just isn’t quite sharp enough. We call a few plays and all of a sudden one guy is out of position, so we don’t really get the full execution.” —ESPN
Last night, we saw what the NBA fears most: the Warriors talent level can immediately erase any prolonged spells of crappy basketball. So, on one hand it’s pretty infuriating as a fan when you watch “the best team in the world” blowing leads at home left and right.
But, on the other hand, there’s nothing more entertaining than final minute drama! And my, do these Golden State Warriors have a flair for the dramatic or what? In the final two minutes Steph and KD went on a combined 10-0 run to erase the five point deficit and close out the win (Klay also had a MAJOR block down the stretch).
First the Warriors nailed this tricky Harlem Globetrotter’s play where the ball looks like it’s about to be stolen a few times before Steph attacks a seven footer off of the dribble and makes a corkscrew layup.
Then Kevin Durant pulled a page out of his “Calmly Walking Into a Clutch Dagger” book. The previous chapter happened in Cleveland during Game 3 of last year’s Finals directly on top of Lebron James bald spot.
Then the crowd stopped biting their nails and let out a throaty, confident cheer. They could feel it coming. Some Warrior was gonna do something clutch!
Here’s what’s unique about this latest in a long line of moments where Steph’s ripping out a franchises heart. It was initiated by Durant putting the fear of God into the bewildered Raptors defense with an old fashioned playground isolation play. His herky-jerky shake-and-bake moves panicked a hapless Delon Wright into bringing a double team. The problem? Wright was supposed to be covering the greatest shooter in the history of all basketball and the only Unanimous MVP in NBA history.
BANG!! The Dubs would get another stop, and Steph would seal the contest with two free throws. He would finish with 30 points, part of a balanced scoring effort by the champs. Durant had 29, Klay had 22 with 8 rebounds, and Draymond had a double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. I think I’m slowly starting to understand why people keep complaining that this team is unfair…
The Raptors came for a war
“The North” was not afraid of going toe to toe with the champs in Oakland. They worked and scraped resiliently to give themselves a fighting chance. The Raptors had six players in double figures, led by Demar DeRozan’s 24 points. The surprise off of their bench was Jakob Poeltl, who completely dominated the flow of the game in his 27 minutes. He had 12 points on 6 of 11 shooting and was a monster on the glass. Of his 14 rebounds, 11 were offensive! His rabid hustle kept the Dubs struggling to keep momentum.
Unfortunately, Kyle Lowry could not be the star the Raptors desperately needed last night. He struggled his way to 5 of 18 from the field (1 of 8 from three), and was routinely targeted for punishment on the defensive end. If he can find some consistency in big game settings, the Raptors will be a handful in the East.
FYI: Toronto has lost it’s last 13 games in Oakland.
Over the Hump
The champs are back over .500, and are looking to correct the mental miscues that have plagued them so far this season. They will host the Washington Wizards this Friday, who will be in an irritable mood after having fallen into the Big Baller Zone last night against Lonzo Ball’s Los Angeles Lakers .
Shimmy on Unanimous, shimmy on.
Klay plays with a purpose
By the way, the original Splash Bro doesn’t just “stick to sports”. Our All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson was moved by the devastation of the Northern California fires which laid waste to whole communities in the Bay Area. He pledged to donate $1,000 to North Bay Fire Relief for every point he scores over the last home game and the next two.
Here at GSoM, our heart goes out to those affected by the deadly tragedy. It is very inspirational to see Klay personally take on the effort to aid and support the victims of the tragedy. We would all do well to consider what we can do to help those in need.
Here’s hoping Klay gets 60 next game!
Who was the Warriors Wonder vs. the Raptors?
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