Life without Kevin Durant hasn't gone swimmingly for the Golden State Warriors, who haven't been able to buy a 3-point bucket or generate offense in the absence of their leading scorer.
While Stephen Curry's shot has completely abandoned him, his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson has disappeared instead of picking up the slack. They are a combined 11-for-64 (17.2%) in three games this week. Curry and Thompson are in an unprecedented funk, and the Warriors clearly won't win many games with their best players struggling so mightily.
Nonetheless, the Warriors will get out of this slump eventually, and they were missing shots they normally make; a plethora of shots rattled in-and-out.
“Nothing to worry about,” Thompson said in the post-game presser. “Just a few bad shooting games. It’s life. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in.”
Klay Thompson on the shooting slump, the loss in Chicago and Steve Kerr snapping another clipboard pic.twitter.com/oKflehl1nY— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 3, 2017
When KD was healthy, the team was able to rely on him to generate easy shots from the paint or by getting to the free throw line when their shots weren't falling. The Warriors started the game cold, missing all of their threes until the three minute mark of the period. David West and Andre Iguodala came off the bench and led the team to a 10-point lead with smart ball and player movement early in the 2nd quarter.
The Warriors were up 4 at halftime, but they were completely out of sync in the second half. Golden State committed 6 of their 15 turnovers in the third quarter and gave up 32 points in the period for Chicago. The apparent lack of hustle led to Steve Kerr to break his clipboard after berating his team during a timeout.
“There was a loose ball and we didn’t treat the ball with value at all," Kerr said, as reported by Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler's physicality and strength overwhelmed the Warriors. Klay Thompson was helpless trying to defend Butler, who was scoring at will. Defensively, Butler disrupted numerous offensive sets as he owned the third quarter that the Warriors typically dominate.
This sluggish effort from the Warriors might help to explain why Kerr opted to put newcomer Matt Barnes in with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. However, they held the Bulls to 94 points on 43.9% from the field. The game ultimately came down to making shots, which they didn't do in the fourth quarter when they only scored 14 points on an abysmal 6-for-23 shooting. The Splash Brothers combined to miss all nine of their threes in the fourth, including a few wide open ones.
Last season, the Warriors made miraculous plays time and time again en route to a record-breaking season, but they've just been average this season. They went from outscoring teams by an unbelievable 110 points in 144 clutch minutes last season to just 9 points in 80 minutes this season. That fourth-quarter magic can return once the Warriors just start hitting big shots again. They're absolutely capable.
Moving forward, rookie Patrick McCaw may continue to prove why he was a steal in the draft with his subtly great play as he fills Durant's spot in the starting lineup. He scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field to go along with a couple of steals. But the Warriors will need him to be more aggressive as the postseason approaches.
The Warriors are in a major slump yet are still in close games. Don't be surprised if they start making shots and returning to their dominant form sooner rather than later.