OAKLAND -- Acknowledging how uneven this season has been, at least by the standards of the New Warriors, two of the team’s veterans pondered the reasons behind some of the poor performances resulting in losses.
“(You’re) not going to have the same intensity level for 82 games,” forward Draymond Green said. “It’s just not going to happen. It’s not realistic.”
There is more than a kernel of truth in that statement. The Warriors own the league’s best record, 33-9, as they face the Bucks Friday night, but they realize their ultimate verdict can’t come until the second season, which begins in mid-April and, given their recent history runs through mid-June.
So during the regular season they are bound to have “off” nights. They find themselves sometimes fighting boredom or complacency. Home losses to such wholly inferior teams as the Clippers and Hornets and Nuggets and Kings provide evidence they’re fully capable of losing those battles.
Veteran forward Andre Iguodala tried rationalizing some of the stunning losses and, skeptic that he is, landed upon an unexpected silver lining.
“You know how it is with us,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’re always searching for something.
“I don’t know. Maybe the NBA thinks it’s good that we lose . . .. It keeps the engagement of the fans.”
Iguodala is known for the clever, cryptic packaging of his feelings and beliefs. This, though, was a sly dropping of another kernel of truth.
The Warriors, as we all know, are in Year 2 of their Super Team phase, which began 18 months ago with the signing Kevin Durant. After becoming the first team in NBA history to roll through the postseason at 16-1, they entered this season as prohibitive favorites.
Who could possibly have a chance against this Goliath on growth hormone?
Suddenly, now, the Warriors seem more vulnerable, if only slightly so. They’re still very much the favorite to win it all, but the regular season is proving that the Warriors are susceptible to losing to any team willing to take the fight to them.
Fans of the other 29 teams enjoy beating up on the bully. When the Kings came to Oakland on Nov. 27 and walked out of Oracle Arena with a victory, it was the happiest day for Sacramento sports fans since their team’s eight-year streak of playoff appearances ended in 2006.
Every loss any team hangs on the Warriors, though, has to send the NBA and its media affiliates into another sphere of joy. It gives the appearance of parity, a goal toward which every executive of any sports league strives.
No doubt the NBA was happy to ride this team’s wave two seasons ago, as the Warriors were marching toward 73 wins. From their 24-0 start that went deep into December -- and through the heart of football season -- they were the hottest daily story in sports. What is more attractive than the possibility of making history?
The Warriors this season are chasing no such fortune. They have six losses within the conference and three of them are to teams outside the eight-team playoff box and facing long odds against climbing in.
They’re fallible, at least for now.
For the sake of legitimate competitive intrigue, the Warriors need a foil and there currently isn’t one. The notion of the Cavaliers is fallacy, as proved last June. The Celtics are interesting and play the Warriors tough, beating them two months ago in Boston, but do they have the horses to hang in June? The Raptors are posers until they get past Cleveland or Boston.
The Spurs aren’t it, either, despite the imposing presence of coach Gregg Popovich. They’re a solid team, expertly coached, but lacking the firepower needed to keep pace with the league’s most explosive team.
Which brings us to the Rockets, who according to comments made by Houston general manager Daryl Morey last month are “obsessed” with beating the Warriors.
Houston is, on the surface, the closest thing to a threat the Warriors will face. They’ve split two games this season, each winning on the other’s floor. They play once more in the regular season, and the outcome will not be relevant anything that might happen in the playoffs.
There are three months to go before we get there, though. That’s plenty of time for the Warriors to look beatable enough, often enough, to keep the bettors guessing, the haters hopeful and a smirk on the faces of the league’s brass.