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The Warriors have struggled in the first half, relatively speaking

The bar they set is very high.

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Perhaps (hopefully?) you had better things to do on Christmas day than watch the Golden State Warriors get obliterated by the Los Angeles Lakers. Or perhaps you were watching, but the booze of the day’s festivities impaired your takeaways from the broadcast.

If either of these things are true, then you may have missed an interesting nugget that the broadcast team revealed as the third quarter began. As the teams prepared to start the second half, the Warriors found themselves losing by a score of 65-50; uncommon territory for a team accustomed to winning.

The broadcast revealed that in the first four years of the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors had trailed by 15 or more points at halftime just one time. On Christmas, just the 35th game of the season for the defending champs, the Warriors were trailing by 15 or more for the third time already this season.

Once in 328 games, vs thrice in 35 games.

Of course, 15 points is an arbitrary deficit, and halftime is an arbitrary end point, but still, it’s a pretty glaring difference. And while they didn’t make a habit of accumulating such big deficits last season, this is a trend that actually began in 2017-18. Check out the team’s first half net ratings during their dynastic run:

Warriors First Half Net Rating

Year First Half Net Rating Rank
Year First Half Net Rating Rank
2014-15 12.3 1st
2015-16 14 1st
2016-17 11.5 1st
2017-18 3 9th
2018-19 3.1 10th

That’s a pretty enormous drop-off from the first three years to the last two. Then again, the team has simply dropped off in regular season performance during that time span, no matter the half. Here’s their full performance over the last five years:

Warriors Net Rating

Year Net Rating Rank
Year Net Rating Rank
2014-15 10 1st
2015-16 10.6 2nd
2016-17 11.3 1st
2017-18 5.9 3rd
2018-19 3.9 7th

The first half performance doesn’t mirror the full-game performance perfectly - it’s a bit more extreme - but there are some similarities. Are the Warriors simply not taking things as seriously as they used to? Are they exhausted and waiting until the game’s pivotal moments to kick things into gear? Are they just coming out of the gates slowly?

It’s likely a combination of those reasons, and many others. But for now, don’t be surprised to find the Warriors in more and more first half holes.