The 2020-21 season was nothing short of a roller coaster ride for the Golden State Warriors. Early struggles to begin the season led to a dominant run down the stretch, ultimately resulting in their demise in the NBA's play-in tournament.
Facing off against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in a winner-moves-on game to begin the tournament, the Warriors suffered a heartbreaking loss in the game's final minutes.
Fortunately for the Dubs, they had one last chance to claim a spot in the playoffs, needing a win over the Memphis Grizzlies. A crushing overtime loss sent the Warriors packing with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Former Warriors guard and current player mentor coach Leandro Barbosa said that the Warriors' loss to the Lakers in the first game was a more painful pill to swallow than the overtime loss to the Grizzlies that eliminated them from playoff contention.
“To be honest, it was painful but it was not the most painful," Barbosa told Wes Goldberg on the "Locked On Warriors" Podcast. "The most painful game that we had, seeing those guys in the locker room after the Laker game, was the toughest one.
"It was a great game, and had we won that game we thought that we would have had a chance to go farther in the playoffs. Once we lost, it took a lot of energy out of us."
Having lost that game against Los Angeles, the Warriors still had hope.
Barbosa believes that the Warriors were running on empty in the ensuing Memphis game because of the effort put forth against the Lakers.
"Once we went to the Memphis game, we wanted to win big-time, but it wasn’t enough," Barbosa said. "I think everything we had we put into the Laker game.”
If the Warriors had beaten the Lakers, the team had high hopes it could make a run deep into the playoffs. That motivation seemed absent in the Memphis game, according to Barbosa.
“The hopes that we had that we could go far into the playoffs, we didn’t have against Memphis.”