Warriors

Golden State, do we have a problem? Another loss to Rockets awakens Warriors

Golden State, do we have a problem? Another loss to Rockets awakens Warriors

In saying goodbye to their impressive road win streak and a chance to make franchise history, the Warriors also experienced an awakening that should linger somewhere in their minds for months to come.

The new and improved Houston Rockets are a serious threat to the defending champs having a parade in downtown Oakland for the second consecutive June.

That threat likely can’t be realized, however, unless the Warriors put the worst of themselves on full display, as they did Saturday night at Toyota Center in a 116-108 loss to the Rockets.

“In the first quarter, every time we made our push, we gave up easy baskets,” Draymond Green told reporters in Houston. “In the second quarter, we put them on the line the entire quarter, which slowed down our pace and let them control the tempo of the game. In the third quarter, we fought back to kind of get there but not get over the hump. And then we finally did, but we just didn’t have the right amount of focus it takes to win a game like that.”

Indeed, the Warriors were guilty of questionable shot selection at various points. They were largely allergic to rebounding, taking a 46-33 drubbing in that category. And far too often they were impatient and therefore utterly careless with their passing, resulting in 19 turnovers that led directly to 23 Houston points.

“It seemed like we kept making one silly play after another,” coach Steve Kerr said.

Sounds familiar, eh? The Warriors know their greatest weaknesses and hear about them ad nauseam from the coaching staff, yet still struggle to consistently address them.

Stephen Curry, who committed a team-worst six turnovers, lamented two possessions in particular. On one, he missed Kevin Durant “butt-naked at the top of the key,” and on another he had Durant open for a dunk but flipped it to Klay Thompson for a 3-pointer that missed.

“I made two of the worst plays of the season on those two possessions,” Curry conceded. “It’s kind of one of those nights when I personally didn’t have the right vision on the floor I’ve got to take responsibility for that.”

This is why the Warriors deserved to lose this game, which gave the Rockets a 2-1 victory in the season series and the homecourt tiebreaker should the two teams finish with identical records.

The Warriors took a 122-121 loss to Houston at Oracle Arena on opening night, then went to Houston on Jan. 4 and claimed a 124-114 victory.

This is enough to prove the Rockets are capable of beating the Warriors. We also note that in the other loss, Warriors’ turnovers gifted 21 points to Houston.

“We know the recipe against this team,” Curry said. “They’re going to shoot a lot of 3s. They’re going to make some tough shots. But if you turn the ball over and if you foul, which we did both in the first half, then that plays right into their hands. It’s just a lack of focus on the game plan.”

That lack of focus is something that has nagged the Warriors numerous times over the course of the season.

Here’s Houston’s problem: The postseason Warriors tend to be a bit sharper than the regular season Warriors.

And the Rockets, well, remain a postseason mystery. Chris Paul, who was so magnificent Saturday night, has an inglorious postseason history, complete with multiple collapses. MVP candidate James Harden also has dubious postseason resume, with epic pratfalls against the Warriors and the Spurs.

So the events of Saturday night, and the three games in the regular season, serve as reminders that if the Warriors play smart and tough and are fully engaged, they’re still the better team. Despite the chance to set a franchise record with a 15th consecutive road victory, the Warriors were less than fully engaged.

There’s a better than even chance of them being fully engaged in the postseason, should these teams meet again.

“We always talk about hitting singles,” Kerr said. “Well, we were trying to hit home runs all night, and you can’t do that against these guys.

“On the bright side, we know we can play a lot better. And we will.”

‘01 Lakers vs ‘18 Warriors: Who you got?

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NBCSBA

‘01 Lakers vs ‘18 Warriors: Who you got?

The 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers went 56-26 in the regular season in defense of the previous season's championship. But the team, led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, stormed through the playoffs, and lost just once en route to a second straight title.

"I'll take that '01 [Lakers] team against anybody in the history of the game," Bryant told Alex Kennedy of the HoopsHype Podcast last week. "Any team."

But what about another back-to-back champion? We're talking about the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors.

‘01 Lakers vs ‘18 Warriors. Who you got?

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This year's Warriors had a similar regular season (58-24), but posted a better offensive rating (113.6) and defensive rating (107.7) than their purple-and-gold counterparts from the start of the century, all while averaging about eight additional possessions per 48 minutes. Golden State shot better from the field (50.3 percent), from beyond the arc (39.7 percent) than Bryant's second title team, but Los Angeles did a better job limiting opponents in both areas. 

We'll never truly know without a time machine that could fit the Warriors' roster, but the current title-holders would have been a heck of a matchup for that Lakers squad.

Who would you pick? Sound off in the comments.

 

Does Kevin Durant sign with Warriors if they win 2016 title? Lacob 'can't say for sure, but...'

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AP

Does Kevin Durant sign with Warriors if they win 2016 title? Lacob 'can't say for sure, but...'

The Warriors did not win the championship in 2016.

It turns out that blowing a 3-1 lead in the Finals may have been a good thing after all.

If the Warriors win the title that year, does Kevin Durant sign with Golden State?

[LISTEN: Subscribe to the Warriors Outsiders Podcast with Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann]

"I can't say for sure but I do not think he would be on the Warriors," Joe Lacob said on 95.7 The Game on Monday. "If we had won, it just would have been too difficult for him probably -- and I can't say this for sure -- to make that decision. 

"As it is, he got criticized for going to a 73-win team, even though we did not win. That's the way it is. And the players, they listen to all this stuff, too."

Lacob and Draymond are on the same page.

During the 2017 Finals, Draymond told ESPN's Zach Lowe:

"If we win the championship, I'm like 99 percent sure we don't get him. There are silver linings to everything."

In Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, the score was tied at 89 with about 4:40 remaining.

[RELATED: Kyrie Irving explains mental process before hitting game-winning 3-pointer in Game 7 vs Warriors]

"At that exact moment when it was happening ... I remember saying to myself, 'I'm not gonna worry about this, but if we win we win, if we lose -- I'm going after Kevin Durant," Lacob said on Monday as he began laughing.

The Warriors did not score another point and lost 93-89.

So Lacob went after Durant and got him...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller