That was ugly.
The Golden State Warriors looked like a team playing its first regular season game in nine months in their 125-99 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
It wasn’t pretty from the start. The Dubs held an early 4-2 lead but trailed for the game’s final 47 minutes. Brooklyn was up 40-25 after the first quarter and never looked back the rest of the way.
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 20 points, while Kyrie Irving had 26, and former Warrior Kevin Durant dropped 22 for the Nets.
Here are four takeaways from the Dubs’ season-opening blowout loss:
Where’s the defense?
Draymond Green can’t return soon enough. The Warriors couldn’t stop a nosebleed with their defense. The Nets took advantage of Golden State’s slow rotations, which led to several open looks from beyond the arc. Brooklyn connected on seven of its first 12 three-point attempts and began to pull away midway through the first quarter.
This was an area of concern during the preseason as well. The Dubs gave up way too many easy points in transition and were outscored 28-12 on fast break opportunities. The Nets were able to get any shot they wanted throughout the game, with the Warriors offering little resistance.
“I think we got a little frustrated with our shots not falling in the first quarter,” Curry said after the game. “We got some good looks, missed a bunch of them. It kind of deflated us, and that in turn took our edge off on the defensive end.”
KEVIN. DURANT. pic.twitter.com/FL7dCSwig1— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 23, 2020
Green’s return should help settle things down on the defensive end, but head coach Steve Kerr will need more from the rest of the roster going forward.
Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. struggle
The duo is two of Golden State’s top three offensive players, but they certainly didn’t play like it in the opener. Wiggins and Oubre combined for just 19 points on 7-of-30 from the field, including 2-of-12 from the 3-point line, and had seven turnovers between them.
Kerr staggered his rotation, so Wiggins began the second quarter on the court with Curry and Oubre resting. The results weren’t pretty. The Dubs managed to score just five points over the first 5:41 of the second quarter before Curry checked back into the game.
Wiggins had some nice defensive plays, but that didn’t translate to the offensive end. Without Klay Thompson, the pressure is on the former No. 1 overall pick to be one of the primary scorers. He needs to be more of a force driving to the hoop and not settle for jumpers.
Oubre had the opposite problem of Wiggins. Oubre plays with a lot of energy and forced way too many shots in the game. He needs to learn how to be more effective without the ball in his hands and get to open spaces on the floor, which will allow Curry to move more freely on the dribble.
James Wiseman’s debut
Wiseman started despite missing the first week of training camp and showcased his potential. The rookie played 24 minutes in his NBA debut, finishing with 19 points, six rebounds and two steals.
“He played really well, he looked great out there. … we got crushed tonight, but James showed exactly why we’re excited about him,” Kerr said. “He’s a really talented guy, he’s smart and hard working … he’s got a bright future.”
First NBA bucket for @BigTicket_JW ✔️— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 23, 2020
Wiseman has a lot of bounce in his game, and his athleticism pops off the screen. He didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on long-range jumpers, which was nice to see from the big man. Wiseman has a smooth stroke from the outside, which is imperative for a center in today’s NBA.
The 19 year old needs to get stronger and work on his defensive positioning, but overall he had a solid first pro game.
It’s only the first game
Golden State dealt with a lot of change over the offseason, bringing in four players who will be critical parts of the rotation going forward. Kerr was missing Green and Wiseman to kick off training camp, and the team will get some much-needed practice in the coming weeks.
There’s no need to hit the panic button, but if this continues past the 10-game mark, the concerns will only grow. The Warriors need a ton of work if they want to keep pace in a loaded Western Conference, but time won’t be on their side with the condensed schedule.
Things won’t get any easier with a Christmas Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks up next. But, the effort and overall execution should be much better on Friday.
What are your main takeaways from the loss?