Over the course of the final three minutes of the 2nd quarter on Saturday night, the Golden State Warriors slid back five points - broadening the gap to 12 points down at the half. After losing four of their last seven games, questions of focus heading into the final stretch of the season are getting louder. And yet, seemingly, it’s falling on deaf ears.
In a Nationally-televised game against one of the teams that has the best shot at coming out of the East, there shouldn’t be any need for Kerr to rally his players. And yet, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, this is the fourth time in the past five games the Warriors have slipped into a double-digit first-half hole.
Steve Kerr and Coach K talked about this a few days ago
With so much talent, there’s a common misconception that the Warriors should be winning every game. On paper? Sure. But there are plenty of reasons why threepeats aren’t more common in the NBA. It’s not just the challenge of maintaining superior talent, there’s a sort of emotional grind here that is impossible to deny.
.@warriors Head Coach @SteveKerr explains to Coach K the challenges of keeping his team fresh every night.— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) February 28, 2019
Hear the entire interview tonight at 6 Eastern on Basketball & Beyond with @DukeMBB Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. pic.twitter.com/xR2RnS47Pm
Yeah exactly, human nature is our biggest opponent and after four straight years of going to the Finals, trying to get there for the fifth... it’s exhausting.
So my job is really about pacing the team and trying to keep us on the right path, but accepting that there will be some lulls and making sure we don’t develop bad habits, but also not driving them into the ground.
The most important aspect to understand (I think) is that the players are human. Just because they have climbed the ladder to be elite NBA players, doesn’t mean they are suddenly immune to burnout. Higher pressure, longer seasons, and shorter break are contributors, but it’s also the opponents. As Kerr says in the interview above, every team is giving Golden State their best shot.
Right now, the Warriors are not returning the favor.
Klay Thompson’s knee and the open 15th roster spot
With Klay Thompson out, Kerr elected to start Alfonzo McKinnie in his place. Results were mixed. Though McKinnie wasn’t disastrous, he wasn’t particularly helpful either - 0-2 from the field, with one rebound and one assist while playing over half of the first quarter.
To start the 3rd, it was Damion Lee - who may be playing his way into that final roster spot on the strength of his shooting (or at least his willingness to shoot). Lee went 4-5 from deep, leading all bench scorers with 12 points on the night.
Klay, for his part, will have an MRI today after banging knees during the Orlando Magic game.
Here’s the play that Klay Thompson tweaked his right knee. Looks like some knee-to-knee contact on the side, then it bangs down on the court. pic.twitter.com/4q6NjMLbTa— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 3, 2019
The Warriors don’t need to make any decision on that last roster spot until the final game of the regular season but if Thompson misses extended time, it would open the door for Lee in much the same way Curry’s late season injury last season opened the door for Quinn Cook.