After having a nice security blanket or safety net of 2.0 games ahead of everyone else in the Western Conference, Golden State recently suffered a surprising skid of 3 consecutive games in their road trip to the Midwest, putting them tied in first place with the Portland Trail Blazers and only a half game ahead of Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Clippers. All three games occurred in their road trip to the Midwest against the Texans triangle of Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs.
But their troubles existed long before this road trip. To begin, Draymond Green suffered a toe injury during the Memphis Grizzlies game, and he never looked the same. Since the injury, he appeared in only 2 games, one against the Houston Rockets and the other against the heated controversy of the Los Angeles Clippers game. Then the next game, the Warriors suffered an even greater loss than their Defensive Player of the Year, by losing their two-time MVP in Steph Curry with a groin injury against the Milwaukee Bucks. Steph Curry has not appeared any game since the injury, and the Warriors have been extra-cautious and careful with the injury, since Steph never experienced it before in his career.
To make matters worse, the Clippers game boiled more trouble in the Warriors’ lockerroom. In their trip to their division opponent in the Staples Center against the Clippers, as regulation is coming to a close, Draymond Green made the executive decision of running the ball up the court, instead of giving it off to Kevin Durant, and turned the ball over at the potential game-winning possession. In the fourth quarter, Golden State clawed their way back with an impressive 11-0 run, which unfortunately only led to an extra period of overtime, where they lost the game. Between the break of regulation and overtime, Golden State experienced the ugliest fight in their two-year dynasty run, where Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green for his poor decision-making at the end of the game, and Green retaliated calling into question Kevin Durant’s commitment to the Warriors and his impending free agency, which has been a hot topic looming over the organization following all season. Multiple reports has surfaced about Kevin Durant’s free agency in the offseason, with a strong probability of him leaving the Warriors. Multiple players have to step in, such as newcomer DeMarcus Cousins calming Draymond down, while veterans such as Iguodala and Livingston talked Kevin Durant.
Klay Thompson believed that winning would help solve the problem, but Iguodala foresees the end of the dynasty approaching soon, especially with the tension that is happening inside of the lockerroom. The management and the team decided the next day, that Draymond Green is suspended the next game, because of conduct detrimental to the team.
While Green joked about his one-game suspension as a way to alleviate some of the pain from his toe injury, the message is clear: Warriors are beating themselves from within. After barely scraping by against a Hawks team with a losing record, Warriors embarked on a three-game road trip to the Midwest, where the troubles inside the organization becomes crystal-clear in their record. In their first game against the Rockets, Green announced that the team has gotten stronger from the incident, but that message did not translate onto the court when they suffered in their second worst-loss and the ugliest road loss of the regular season against their Western Conference Finals opponent, who came close in eliminating the champs last postseason.
The next game, the Warriors were up leading into the fourth quarter, but unfortunately, two open and great looks from the two remaining all-star of the game, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, could not convert those game-tying field goals, ultimately choking in crunchtime. Meanwhile, the Spurs seemed to dance around the Warriors, always holding up the lead against the Warriors, and the Warriors always trying to playing catch-up unsuccessfully.
The Warriors are in a competitive heated race. Despite their current skid, they are surprisingly sitting on top of the Western Conference, tied with the Portland Trail Blazers. However, this means that the margin of error must be brought down to a minimum, as every single game counts in order to earn a playoff spot. While it is early to be talking about the playoffs in this point of the season, it is important to note that the first and the 14th place of the Western Conference are separated by only less than 5 games. If the Warriors want to continue to write into their historic dynasty, they must concentrate and get their groove back together, because the Warriors have a tough road ahead of them, facing off an Oklahoma City squad who is currently on their tail on Wednesday, a Portland Trail Blazers squad who is tied in first place, and a Sacramento Kings squad who is determined to make it into the playoffs. The Warriors must get down to business, even if it means playing without their two-time and defensive player of the year.
Featured Image via Flickr/Keith Allison