Once again, the Warriors played like they wanted to be any where else but on the court, as they were annihilated by the Celtics, 128-95. Granted, Klay Thompson wasn't in the lineup, due to continued knee soreness. Plus, Shaun Livingston was ruled out at the last minute with neck pain.
However, it still doesn’t excuse the lack of effort from the Warriors against a Boston Celtics squad that was hungry and desperate to get back on track.
Another game. Another Slow Start.
The Warriors spotted Boston the game’s first 11 points before going on a run to bring the deficit down to four early in the first quarter. But they just couldn’t overcome the damage. In fact, the Warriors’ sloppiness helped the Celtics lead balloon to 25 at the half. How? I’ll let Stephen Curry tell you.
Curry was absolutely right. The Warriors didn’t start with the right energy. Against Boston, it started with the bad execution on offense. They operated with less spacing plus it didn’t make matters any better with the Warriors’ need to force-feed DeMarcus Cousins, who struggled mightily last night. Despite leading the team in rebounds, Cousins only scored 10 points off of 4-for-12 shooting. Most of those attempts consisted of Cousins struggling to convert in the paint.
The ball movement was virtually non existent. Golden State had only 26 assists last night and 21 turnovers. Force feeding passes to Cousins and others were just as much of a factor as the careless, telegraphed passes that the Warriors are known for. Cousins had four of those assists, and I don’t remember any post split plays involving him with Curry or with Durant. Granted, the spacing wasn’t there but it was worth an attempt instead of force feeding on the block.
Playing With Anger?
What’s more concerning than the slow start, turnovers, and poor defense is the fact that the Warriors seemed emotionless and stoic during the game and played like it as well. Warriors coach Steve Kerr even said that his team should play with more anger.
Steve Kerr: “It starts with a passion and an anger and an intensity. It wasn’t there.” pic.twitter.com/pSGw9a6B1O— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 6, 2019
Only for Kevin Durant to take a perceived shot at Kerr at the podium.
Kevin Durant asked about Kerr saying the team needed to play with more anger: “I thought we moved off joy. Now anger? I disagree with that one.” pic.twitter.com/M7o4nFDori— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 6, 2019
Perceived shot or not, Durant is right in his assessment. The Warriors’ woes aren't about not playing with “joy” or “anger”. Not at all because part of what’s ailing the Warriors now is Kerr’s struggles. Yeah, I know what will be said ‘he’s won three titles in four years’ and all but he shares as much responsibility in this slump as the players.
First of all, Kerr must do a better job in preparing his squad. These slow starts and lack of effort aren’t coincidences. Kerr even agreed with Draymond Green when he said that the team didn’t practice well leading up to the Rockets’ game two weeks ago, and even expressed regrets to reporters.
Practice and performance are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other regardless of talent on the roster. You play how you practice more often than not. If you’re playing like trash, you’re probably practicing like it too.
Secondly, Kerr has to come up with better schemes and adjustments . Last night, Curry was the one who could seemingly produce while the others couldn’t buy a basket on credit. Okay, so why is Kerr so hell bent on keeping the ball out of Curry’s hands so he can run a marathon around screens or setting screens for Cousins, et al? Why force feed Cousins when he’s struggling instead of turning him into a facilitator out of the post?
On defense, it’s obvious opponents are pulling Cousins from the paint and torching him in the pick and roll action. He can’t switch nor can he show and recover because he’s too slow to recover and contest shots. So why not attempt to help defend or set traps for example?
Playing with emotion and purpose is great but what’s greater is playing with emotion, purpose AND solid gameplans and adjustments.
The Warriors were thoroughly embarrassed last night, and maybe it was for the better. They have two days to stew, fester and ‘sit in it’ before locking in. Friday, the Denver Nuggets are coming to Oracle and I’m pretty certain that the Warriors would like to win this one to remain at the top of the West. Hopefully, they’ll play like it.