SAN ANTONIO -- Even while reeling as never before in games of significance, the Warriors continue to exhibit a self-assurance that borders on arrogance.
Draymond Green says they’ll “be fine.”
Kevin Durant says the mood in the locker room is “good.”
Stephen Curry says he’s proud of his teammates for their unified handling of the agitation created by the infamous upheaval between Durant and Green on Monday.
Even after their 112-109 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday, there was Klay Thompson saying, “we feel great.”
It’s almost as if they’re embracing a concept most teams -- especially contenders -- abhor. The “moral victory.”
Given the breathtaking recent history, perhaps the Warriors have earned the privilege of arrogance. They’ve accomplished things no other team has. They’re in the midst of trying to win a third consecutive championship, something only three NBA teams have achieved.
But such unwavering swagger in the face of reality feels a little like denial. And denial is not a healthy way to approach much of anything in life, particularly when there are so many witnesses.
The Warriors, honestly, are staggering. They’ve lost three of four, the lone victory coming against the wretched Hawks, who stayed close to the champs longer than would be acceptable under normal circumstances.
The Mavericks, a team undergoing transition, were too much for the Warriors in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” Durant told reporters afterward. “We had great looks in the fourth, especially myself. I missed about five or six good looks.
“I wish I could have knocked down those shots for the team. But I’m glad we’ve got a game tomorrow.”
Asked what it would take for them to get out of this skid, Thompson kept it plain and simple.
“Win tomorrow,” he said. “It’s pretty simple.”
A win on Sunday against the Spurs would be a meaningful step for the Warriors toward restoring their routine and sanity. What they’ve gone through this week is both unusual and disturbing, whether they care to admit or not. It is evident in listening to Durant that he is still annoyed by not only the content of the argument, but also the constant references to it.
Asked about the vibe around the team, Durant offered words sprinkled with salt.
We’re just trying to move forward,” he said. “Are we going to talk about this the whole year? We just want to play ball. I know that’s all I want to do.”
Who knew that a single victory over a San Antonio team with its own problems could mean so much? And, really, it would matter.
But not nearly as much as the return of Curry and Green, along with the good-time vibe that makes the Warriors the Warriors.
When the Warriors are “fine” or “good” or “great,” they chase more than victory. They pursue excellence -- the ability to dominate with such panache -- that they can all laugh together about it.
Only then will the arrogance seem fitting.