By now you probably know, since you’ve heard it a million times — on Twitter, on broadcasts, on this website — that the Golden State Warriors have not had a three-game streak all season. Two months into the schedule, the Dubs have yet to win three games in a row, or lose three in a row.
Now’s their chance. Just not in the way that they would have hoped.
The Warriors face the New York Knicks on Tuesday, with a chance to lose three straight for the first time since last season. But it’s not the potential three straight that’s the story right now — it’s the way they got there.
It was a confluence of mishaps, silliness, and poor luck that found the Dubs on the doorstep of a trio of losses, highlighted — but not limited to — an illness to Steph Curry, a pair of technical fouls with less than 10 seconds remaining by Draymond Green, and a pair of double-digit fourth quarter leads squandered like bath water down a drain.
The Warriors have every reason to believe they should be 18-13 instead of 16-15. But there’s only so long that a team can keep talking about what they should be rather than what they are, and with the halfway mark of the season a week away, the Warriors might already be past that point. Let’s hand the mic to Green to make the point a tad bit more emphatically than I’m making it. Here he is after Friday’s loss to the Orlando Magic:
Draymond seems as bummed by the loss as any this year. Says softly, "That's the beautiful thing about the NBA, tomorrow's a new day ... but we can't keep fucking saying it."— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) February 20, 2021
Well ... yeah. Hard to argue with that.
And so the Warriors will seek to avoid a third straight loss against a third straight team that they should beat. They say there’s no such thing as a must-win game in the NBA — until you get to the end of the season — but there are reasons to feel like Tuesday’s affair is exactly that for the Warriors.
Can they avoid another loss to what should be a lesser team, especially as they’re likely welcoming back reinforcements? Where are they mentally after two deflating losses and Green’s backbreaking T’s?
A loss not only puts the Warriors at .500, but also puts them at a free fall at the worst time: after the Knicks game, the Warriors still have four of their remaining five games before the break taking place on the road. And those four? Against the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns. Teams that are, respectively, 15-14, 22-9, 18-11, and 19-10.
The Dubs haven’t had a losing record since they were 2-3 and have generally looked like a good team since Green returned following his positive coronavirus test. Yet if they lose to New York, they’ll be in perfect shape to take a losing record to the All-Star Game.
The game matters for the standings. It matters for the confidence. It matters for the resolve.
Must-win games might not exist in February. But “holy crap it would be a really, really, really bad time to lose again” games sure do, and the Warriors are in the ring with one.