Warriors

Five observations from Warriors' 33-point preseason loss to Lakers

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Five observations from Warriors' 33-point preseason loss to Lakers

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
 
The Warriors' fourth preseason game, a 126-93 loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night at Staples Center, was one to forget.

There were not too many macro-level conclusions to be made from the 33-point loss, as Steph Curry, Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III and Omari Spellman all sat out. Despite the huge talent disparity in the game, it is quite obvious that the Lakers are an impressive team.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis already have midseason-type chemistry, and the rest of the squad plays with great enthusiasm and skill. They will be a force to be reckoned with all season if they stay healthy. 
 
Even though the game was rather meaningless for the Warriors, there were some small takeaways to take note of.

Draymond Green's conditioning

If Draymond Green seems a tad slow or a little out of shape, do not worry, this is how he usually approaches the regular season. Green consistently has tried to reduce the wear and tear on his body in the offseason as he prepares for a long and arduous NBA schedule. This season is no different as Green gains his conditioning as the regular season begins.

Unlike last season, it is expected that the power forward pushes himself physically to reach his playoff-shape earlier in the regular season, as the Warriors will need him at his very best from the start. It is crucial that he plays like the All-Star he is if the Dubs have a chance at reaching the playoffs. 

Eric Paschall's progress

Eric Paschall showed some glimpses of how he can be a solid defender. Paschall faced LeBron in a few one-on-one situations, and held his own, pressuring The King into tough fadeaway shots -- though James inevitably scored on those possessions.

On the other side of the court, Paschall made a fadeaway of his own in LeBron's face. While that shot looked fluid and went in, it is clear that the early weakness in Paschall's game is his shooting. Like most rookies, adapting to the NBA's longer 3-point distance, as well as the athleticism and speed of the opponents, can be a tough transition when trying to find their shot.

There is no reason to doubt that Paschall eventually will improve in that regard, but if he continues to struggle on open jumpers to start the season, it might limit his playing time early on. 

Watching Jordan Poole

As expected, Jordan Poole is not ready to take over and lead an offense without help. There was no reason to assume at this point he would be able to, but after expectations soared sky-high following his explosive first two preseason games, his production has fallen off considerably as the Warriors' stars and key players have sat out.

Poole can be a weapon in an offense where he can fly under the radar and come off screens free to shoot. With Curry, Green or D'Angelo Russell feeding him, Poole will have ample opportunity to fire away. But when he is the focal point of the offense, and defenses are able to key in on him, he's a lot less effective.

With time and experience, Poole has the skillset and mindset to eventually be an offensive force. But until then, he will need to be a complimentary piece that can spread the floor for Curry and Russell. 

Jacob Evans' evolution

In four preseason games, Jacob Evans III is a combined 4-for-7 from 3-point range. While it is a small sample size, it is very clear Evans is a much more confident shooter, with a more effective shooting stroke. The Warriors are desperate to find players that are capable of defending small forwards, while being able and willing to hit an open shot.

If Evans maintains this new found effectiveness, there is a strong chance that he will find consistent playing time in the rotation.

Steve Kerr's rotations

Missing Looney, Cauley-Stein and Burks for the whole preseason severely has limited Steve Kerr's ability to experiment with rotations or try to development chemistry in lineups. With the start of the regular season next week, it appears as if all the experimentation will have to be a work in progress while the games count.

[RELATED: Dudley backs Dray's comments on Chriss' tenure with Suns]

The Warriors' playoff hopes will not have a large margin for error to lose games while they get players back from injury and try to strategize the most effective lineups. This will be Kerr's challenge, and patience will be key.

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For much of the young season, the Warriors have been in search of a small piece of continuity. 

With three of its four All-Star pieces out due to injury, the quest has been arduous for the Warriors, leading to the team's longest losing streak in since 2012. 

Those troubles momentarily paused when the Warriors beat the Grizzlies 114-95 on Tuesday to snap a seven-game losing streak while validating the progress the team has made in recent weeks. 

"I'm happy for the guys," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They've been playing hard and working hard and It's good to see them rewarded."

Tuesday's win comes as the Warriors have played just well enough to lose in recent games. In Friday's loss to the Celtics, the team held the Eastern Conference leaders to just 40 percent from the field, with Boston guard Kemba Walker making just 6 of his 19 shots. Two days later, the Warriors held the battered Pelicans to 41 percent from the field, before losing 108-100. Entering Tuesday, the team allowed teams to shoot just 41.1 percent over their last two outings. 

Keeping with a recent trend, Golden State held the Grizzlies to just 40 percent from the field and forcing 14 turnovers. Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant struggled much, making just 7-of-20 from the field as the Warriors diversified its defensive sets for most of the night. 

"We came out and competed hard and executed the gameplan like we talked about and I'm proud of the guys," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson said. "I knew it was coming because of the way we played, we're trying to play hard and play the right way." 

"I think we just challenged ourselves," Warriors forward Draymond Green added. "That's something we've talked a lot about, getting better on the defensive end and we've been stepping up to the challenge." 

For much of the season, the team's defensive woes have coincided with its uncommon rash of injuries. The trend started on the eve of training camp when the Warriors announce Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. 

In the last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. Last week, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand. All the while, one of the league's most vaunted defense has plummeted to last in the league. 

Even as injuries mounted, signs of promise were apparent around the locker room. Rookie Eric Paschall is averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, including a 30-point performance in Sunday's loss to the Pelicans. Veteran guard Alec Burk -- who signed a one-year contract with the team last summer -- is averaging 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 11 games. 

"The great thing with these guys is they've stayed with it every step of the way," Kerr said. "They haven't taken a day off, they haven't stopped working." 

[RELATED: Warriors get good news on Looney, Smailagic]

"You can definitely see that there's some improvement," Green added. "And with the improvement, we've been talking after each game about 'We're getting there, we're getting there, just keep on working.'" 

While their recent play has been promising, the real progress will be dictated by what the Warriors have been about for nearly a decade. 

"We've also been talking about don't get comfortable with just being there," Green said. "Don't get comfortable with 'Hey we're getting better.' Let's try to make this 'Hey, we're getting better' equal some wins."

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 114-95 win over Grizzlies

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 114-95 win over Grizzlies

BOX SCORE

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For much of the season, the Warriors have been searching for a complete performance amid an unusual amount of injuries. 

They achieved that goal Friday evening, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 114-95 at FedEx Forum with nine inactive players. 

In its best performance of the season, the Warriors used a big second quarter to blow the game open. Rookie Eric Paschall finished with 17 points, aiding an offense carried by Alec Burks, finishing off an impressive bounce-back performance after losing to New Orleans Sunday evening.

Here are the takeaways from Tuesday night 

Alec Burks

After signing a one-year deal last summer, Burks has used his time with the Warriors to revitalize a once-promising career. On Tuesday, he continued towards that goal, scoring 29 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 36 minutes. 

Despite missing all of training camp with an ankle injury, Burks has become a dependable scorer, averaging 13.5 points through 11 games. Two weeks ago in Houston, he scored 28 points, adding eight rebounds, showing his promise. 

Burks seemed destined for big things after the Jazz selected him No. 12 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. Through his first five seasons, he averaged 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. However, a series of stress fractures limited Burks to just 100 games from 2014 through 2016, and he has not played in more than 75 games in a season since 2013-14. 

But if he continues to play at his current level, he could not only revitalize his career, but play his way into a lucrative deal.   

Defense

Keeping with a recent trend, the Warriors were stout defensively Tuesday evening, holding the Grizzlies to just 40 percent from the field and forcing 14 turnovers. 

Grizzlies Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant struggled all night, making just 7-of-20 from the field as the Warriors diversified its defensive sets for most of the night. On occasion, they'd switch from a traditional man-to-man sets to a 2-3 zone. 

The performance is on par with Golden State's output of late. Entering Tuesday, the team allowed teams to shoot just 41.1 percent over their last two outings. 

While the Warriors have shown improvement, Tuesday's performance did highlight the team's need for a frontcourt presence as the Grizzlies outscored them 52-46 in the paint.

[RELATED: Looney, Smailagic clearned for on-court work]

Second-quarter magic

For years, the Warriors have used big runs to blow games wide open. Despite not having most of its All-Star core, Golden State gave a glimpse of the past. 

After Memphis took a two-point lead following the first quarter, Golden State outscored Memphis 33-16 in the second quarter. Alec Burks scored 10 of his game-high 29 points as the Warriors held Memphis to just 36 percent in the first half. 

Following Tuesday's shootaround, Warriors coach Steve Kerr cited that the team is finally getting comfortable playing with each other despite Golden State's myriad of injuries. If the team can keep up the recent trend, it will bode well for their development as its stars rehab.