Let’s make one thing clear: the Golden State Warriors got murked on Wednesday, and there’s no defense for the fact that they simply decided to not show up for a closeout game against a hobbled Memphis Grizzlies team.
This is not an article in defense of the performance. It was three hours of my life that I’m not getting back, and three hours of your life that you’re not getting back, and now a Friday night that we’re not getting back, and we should all be annoyed.
So let’s take a moment and collectively be annoyed. Humph, or garumph, or pace back and forth, or hit an inanimate object (preferably one that won’t break), or listen to your favorite angry song. Come on, we’ll do it together.
3, 2, 1...
OK, with that out of our collective system, let’s face the reality. It was just one game, and it means next to nothing. Predictively, that is. From a descriptive standpoint it means a lot, all of it bad. But from a predictive standpoint — which is to say, what we can expect from the Warriors in Game 6, and every other playoff game they have this season — it means essentially nothing.
Our first clue should be Steph Curry smiling and Draymond Green dancing during “Whoop That Trick,” after they had already embarrassed themselves on national TV and guaranteed that a Game 6 was necessary.
Grizzlies dance crew singing “Whoop that trick!” in Stephen Curry’s face during Game 5 timeout pic.twitter.com/yxeeCBrHvk— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 12, 2022
Our second clue should be Green’s post-game sentiments, where he displayed about as much worry as I would if you were to inform me that there’s a deadly snake 7,826 miles away.
Draymond explains why he was having fun with the fans in Memphis while they chanted “Whoop That Trick" pic.twitter.com/M38AsQ8WPk— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 12, 2022
Sure, it was one of the worst playoff performances in NBA history. But the Milwaukee Bucks lost by 39 points in the playoffs last year, and won the NBA Finals. And the 73-win Warriors lost back-to-back playoff games to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 28 and 24 points.
The 2016-17 championship team only lost one playoff game and it was by 21 points. The next year they won a championship after suffering a 13-point loss in the first round, a 19-point loss in the second round, and a 22-point loss in the Conference Finals.
We’ve seen what the Warriors look and sound like when they’re not convinced they can right the ship. The entire 2020-21 season was a masterclass in that. They tried to convey confidence, but it was a pretty shoddy acting job. I’ve seen better performances on The Bachelor.
That’s not the case this year. There’s an endless supply of confidence, and a healthy dose of arrogance ... perhaps a bit too much arrogance, given Wednesday’s performance. But while the arrogance may be frustrating in small doses, it’s usually rewarded in the long run, because there’s usually a reason for the arrogance existing in the first place.
We know who the Warriors are. They’re the team that finished the regular season with the fifth-best net rating in the league, the second-best defense, and the third-most wins, despite Green missing nearly half the season, Klay Thompson missing more than half the season, and the core trio playing a grand total of 11 minutes together.
Be pissed at the performance, because it was awful. Be anxious about Friday’s game, because it’s the playoffs, and if you’re not anxious you’re not doing it right.
But don’t think that last night’s game was indicative of who the Warriors are, when we have 91 games before it that tell the actual story.