The last time Golden State lost three straight games was approximately 5 years ago, on November 23, 2013, before Kevin Durant joined the team and started a dynasty. The loss against San Antonio on Sunday marked the first time the Golden State suffered a stretch of three games during their dominant years together. The Warriors look vulnerable for the first time in a long while, ranking second in the Western Conference, tied with Grizzlies and a half game behind the first place Portland Trail Blazers. After feeling comfortable sitting on top of the Western Conference, the Warriors hit a minor note a little over a week ago against the Clippers that started a transaction chain of their losing culture. Against the Clippers, Draymond and KD exchanged heated words with each other, with Draymond threatening or beckoning KD to leave the Warriors in free agency, which has been a hot commodity in the NBA news community around KD’s decision in the upcoming offseason.
While both players addressed the media by saying that the problem has resided and has diffused, the effects of the tension still ripples in the following games, as Warriors was only able to capture one game in the next four, and was shut out completely from their trip to the Midwest. Multiple players identified the lingering effects of this issue towards the media. Andre Iguodala expressed that the end of the dynasty may be coming a lot sooner than most people expected and that the tension could have been a strong motivator. Shaun Livingston believed that the tension is just a result of their competitive nature and their passion to win, but Klay Thompson recently brought out the frustrations that are hindering their ability to close out games. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant has been handling the waves of the rocky Golden State squad for the past two games and will continue that tradition heading into their matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Draymond is tending towards his toe injury and Steph Curry is recovering from a groin injury.
The Warriors will return home after a disappointing road trip to the Midwest, and hopefully the feeling of home can help them snap into focus and break out of their recent losing culture. With their recent losing streak, it is expected for the Warriors to have this sense of urgency when it comes to tipoff. But, the flow of the game showed otherwise.
After being down the entire first quarter, Warriors managed to get the game tied, but that was the best that they can do for the rest of the game. Thunder managed to have a 14-point advantage, heading into half-time, and when the Warriors sparked a run in the second half, the Thunder was able to pull away. The Warriors, in the third quarter, made a strong effort, led by the two remaining all-stars on the roster, KD and Klay, to cut the lead down to 4 points before a Paul George three from the left wing initiated a run of their own for OKC.
Based on this game, it seems apparent that KD and Klay are taking the burden or weight of much of the offensive responsibility of the game. With not that much ball movement in the offensive end, mostly consisting of iso-plays, KD and Klay combined for 44 out of 83 field goals attempted for the team. As Paul Pierce has addressed in the talk show immediately following the game, the Warriors are both “physically and mentally broken.” Thunder, on the other hand, was hungry and aggressive and active on all ends of the court, pulling out all stops against the Warriors, forcing the Warriors to convert 17 turnovers while grabbing 18 offensive rebounds. Thunder was led by their bench spark of Dennis Schroder with a season-high of 32 points along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists to cap off his spectacular night.
Warriors have their work cut out for them when the Portland Trail Blazers come into town two days later, but it appears that the environment of the team is still laxed, given their current circumstances. Steve Kerr jokes around at press conferences about the mood of the team, saying that these kinds of failures are necessary for a team with much success over the years to grow and build from this experience.
Hopefully, Warriors can follow that advice and lesson from Steve Kerr, or else, we might be seeing a season where the Warriors may not even make it to the playoffs.
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