Dub Nation, we now have a problem.
The Warriors have lost five out of their last 10 games; that includes an embarrassing and shameful 126-106 beatdown in Indianapolis at the hands of a surging Indiana Pacers team, and a 126-120 loss against the New Orleans Pelicans in their home regular season finale.
Granted, the Warriors have been riddled with injuries to their core and their bench, the latest being Stephen Curry’s grade 2 MCL sprain — I understand that. And, yes, they beat the Phoenix Suns last night in what’s best described as a “glorified scrimmage.” However, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that since then, the team continues to struggle with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green back in the lineup. What’s troubling to me is the Warriors issues remain to be intensity and focus — the same issues that have plagued them all season.
In Saturday’s game against the Pelicans, the Warriors seized a 92-88 lead going into the fourth behind a 37-point third quarter. Durant was sensational-leading the way with 41 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. However, the Warriors squandered the game with lackadaisical defense and careless turnovers in the fourth.
Strangely, I’m not really concerned with the turnovers as I am about the porous defense. The Warriors are a pass-happy team and they are prone to commit their share. It’s just something that will be an issue from time to time. I’d be happy if the team work on committing less than 16 per in the playoffs. However, there are no excuses for lapses like this:
The defensive focus is not where it should be going into the playoffs. During the five quarters before last night’s win against the tanking Suns, the Warriors surrendered 27, 35 (twice), 29 and 40. The Pelicans shredded the Warriors for 126 points. Granted, New Orleans came out shooting and scoring from the gate but the Warriors can control their effort and repeated lapses. These are the habits that have plagued this team through the season, and yet they still haven’t addressed those issues.
Coach Steve Kerr had a more encouraging and positive assessment of where the team is after the Pelicans game.
“We are going to have new life when the playoffs start,” he says. “We are going to be alright.”
Is Kerr trying to convince the media and fans or is he trying to convince himself and the team? It seems as if Kerr is implying that the Warriors will now ‘flip the switch’.
Here’s the thing: The ‘switch’ should have been flipped after the All Star Break—since they were ‘mentally fried’ and they need the break to rejuvenate.
The Warriors, before the rash of injuries later were rejuvenated. They went on a seven-game winning streak after All-Star. To their credit, they did take a mental break to rest and heal their minds and bodies. But I wonder did they also address their issues of excessive turnovers and sloppy defense?
As the end of the regular season approaches, the answer is, ‘No, the Warriors did not address those problems.’
Now, these problems can bleed into the first round of the playoffs. A first round without Curry against either the Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder or the Utah Jazz or the Minnesota Timberwolves or Denver Nuggets, could give the Warriors a battle.
The margin of error in round one is microscopic. Without Curry to stretch the defense, the Warriors must take care of the basketball, take better shots, and lock in defensively. If they do this, the Warriors will win their first round matchup regardless of opponent and get Curry back sometime in the second.