The only win the Golden State Warriors got last night was from a successfully-overturned foul call courtesy of a coach’s challenge from Steve Kerr.
Unfortunately, a successful challenge doesn’t show up on the box score, nor did it improve the Warriors’ chances at winning their game against the Dallas Mavericks. To the Mavericks, it was but a minor nuisance, not even a slight thorn on the side of the team led by Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks proceeded to execute well and did exactly what they were expected to do to these Warriors, who were left with eight active players on the roster after Draymond Green was ruled out with a sore right heel.
The night was full of horrendous mini-defeats, all summing up to a massive loss that the Warriors will certainly want to forget and move on from quickly. This latest back-to-back slate proved to be a case of the Warriors’ nature as a night-and-day team: They can look competitive one day, and they can look like the absolute worst basketball team in the league during the next.
If you managed to watch last night’s game all the way to its conclusion — and I commend you for such a feat if you did — you must be aware that the Warriors were very much the latter. It was a recipe for disaster the moment Green was announced as unavailable for the game. Already having the dubious distinction of being the worst defensive team in the league, the Warriors lost their best defender. Whether that would’ve made a difference or not against the Mavericks is a question left to be answered by an alternate reality.
At halftime, the Mavericks put up 74 points to the Warriors’ 38. By the end of the third quarter, the Mavericks had bypassed the century mark in points. To them, the Warriors were nothing more than punching bags — or to put it in basketball terms, they were that team at the local YMCA who were paid to be live bodies in a scrimmage against a professional basketball team. The results of last night’s game said as much: The Warriors struggled to score points, while largely letting the Mavericks score at will.
Doncic, the wunderkind from Slovenia who is well on his way to becoming an All-Star in only his second season in the league (as well as inserting himself into early MVP discussions), garnered a triple-double of 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists — and he managed to accomplish it in only 25 minutes of action on the floor. From the onset, Doncic asserted his dominance over the talent-depleted Warriors, hitting threes over lackluster perimeter defense and setting up his teammates for buckets with exceptional passing and court vision. To say that the Warriors’ skeleton crew was overmatched by a generational talent such as Doncic is an understatement.
(And to those Warriors fans who witnessed Stephen Curry destroying teams on an almost nightly basis in 2015-16, this feeling is eerily similar — the only difference being that the Warriors are now on the receiving end of such transcendent greatness.)
On the Warriors’ side, six players managed to hit double digits in scoring, led by none other than Eric Paschall, who finished with 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field. Besides Ky Bowman’s 16 points, that was the only other notable performance from the Warriors, and even those 22 were as quiet and sparse as the Mavericks’ home arena was, which was surprisingly thin in attendance despite the presence of a transcendent talent and its tenants possessing a winning record.
Speaking of sparse, the Warriors’ shooting splits told the story of their struggles on offense last night — shooting 38.9 percent overall, 29.6 percent from beyond the arc, and an uncharacteristic 64 percent from the free-throw line is far from being a recipe for success. The advanced offensive stats show an even crueler picture: an effective field-goal percentage (eFG%) of 43.3 percent, a true-shooting percentage (TS%) of 46.5 percent, and an offensive rating of 94.0. Having only eight guys on the roster — with probably only two of them being capable of creating their own shot — will have that kind of effect.
“It’s an 82-game season, so that’s one thing you gotta realize about this league,” Paschall said about moving on from this loss. “One day, you’re gonna have one of these games like this and you just gotta forget about it. We’re gonna have another game coming up in two days. I feel like we’re gonna be all right.”
While the Warriors struggled to shoot from deep, one stood out in that department: Bowman, who was conservative in his attempts but nevertheless efficient, posting a 2-of-3 clip from beyond the arc. He was behind Paschall in points, scoring 16 and continuing to show flashes of being a dependable ballhandler/secondary scorer.
Additionally, he has shown himself to be a pesky defender, as evidenced by his tendency to pick up his man and applying full-court pressure.
“It’s a mindset really,” Bowman said of his tendency to pick up players the full length of the court. “If you have the mindset to do that, you can do anything.”
One day after posting an anomalous defensive rating of 96.9 against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors experienced a brutal return to reality against the Mavericks. It was to be expected — after all, the Mavericks are the second best offensive team in the league in terms of efficiency. Their shooting splits are what Ron Adams’ nightmares are made of: A 57.3 percent overall clip, a 57.9 percent clip from three-point range, an eFG% of 69.7 percent, and a TS% of 71.6 percent — all to the tune of an offensive rating of 142.0, which was also the Warriors’ defensive rating against them.
“Flush (this game) down the toilet,” Kerr said after the game. “We’re not going to watch film on this. Move on to Utah on Friday.”
A horrendous offensive shooting night, and a defensive performance that went beyond their reputation as the worst defense in the NBA — both comprised the anatomy of a disastrous mismatch, another blowout defeat against a superior team with superior talent. The Warriors are now 3-13, comfortably placed 30th out of 30 teams. The injury bug continues to afflict them, and with a Friday showdown against the Utah Jazz coming up, flushing this loss down the toilet and moving on to the next one doesn’t seem like it will provide any sort of respite at all.