After a second straight disappointing performance on Friday night, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was visibly upset with his team’s effort and focus.
Two weeks away from All-Star break, the entire team looks mentally and physically exhausted. Poor execution and lazy play is a little disappointing from such a historically talented team.
It seems the Warriors simply aren’t as invested in winning each and every game in 2018 as they were in years past. The dumb turnovers and inconsistent defensive intensity are the most apparent outcomes: they’re sixth in defensive rating (according to NBA.com/stats) after being top five the past three seasons, and are averaging more turnovers per game than ever before.
Nothing to prove
So what’s different about this season? The Warriors don’t have as much to prove. They don’t have to chase the record for most wins in a regular season, or redeem blown playoff leads. They’ve proven they can win championships very comfortably.
Over the past few seasons, LeBron James and his team has effectively given up on spectacular regular season records, knowing that they can make it out of the Eastern Conference Playoffs against anybody. Although the Warriors are a better team and more committed to good regular season basketball, they’re sort of falling into a similar mindset after three of the most dominant years in recent basketball history.
After all, the regular season doesn’t mean that much. The Warriors will always remember chasing seventy-three wins only to lose in the NBA Finals. The most important thing for this Warriors team now is health, rest, and appropriate preparation for the playoffs.
Age catching up to the Warriors?
The Warriors are also older than they used to be. Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, and Andre Iguodala are showing signs of age, and they’ll especially need more rest in the latter part of the season to prepare for the playoff grind. It’s easy to forget the most consistent center on the team, David West, is 37-years-old!
When the Warriors have showed up determined to compete, they’ve been better than ever. That’s important, and gives me little doubt that they can turn on that switch when they need to. As long as they keep ahead of the Houston Rockets for the first seed in the West, they’ll be in prime position once the playoffs begin.
But for now, the Warriors just have to make it to All-Star break. They’ll take it one game at a time, and might drop a few more contests than we’re used to. And for the most part, it’s nothing to worry about.