Warriors

Warriors

Halfway through Game 2 of the Warriors' first-round NBA playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers, it appeared the defending champions were going to coast to an easy win and a 2-0 series lead.

But that didn't come to fruition.

After taking a 31-point lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter, Steph Curry went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul, and the Warriors started to unravel. That allowed the Clippers to close the third quarter on a 36-12 run and cut their deficit to 14. 

Curry returned to the game in the fourth quarter, but he struggled to find the rhythm he had established in the first half. As the Warriors continued to miss shots and turn the ball over, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell led the Clippers on a historic comeback, combining to score 46 second-half points to pull LA within one point with 46 seconds left. After a Klay Thompson missed 3-pointer, Landry Shamet banged home a triple of his own to give the Clippers a two-point lead with 16 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing Warriors possession, Curry missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer, and the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history was completed with the Clippers leaving Oracle Arena with a 135-131 win.

After the game, Curry explained how everything came undone.

 

"I think mainly, just our aggressiveness defensively, our togetherness defensively," Curry said after the game. "You know, Lou Williams played amazing tonight. He hit big shot after big shot, but at some point, our collective mindset and energy has to kind of be there to make it tough on him and get good shots on the offensive end, as well.

"We turned the ball over a little bit too much. I hated my fourth foul, you know, with almost eight minutes left in the third quarter and our whole rotation changes. Lot of little things that end up giving them confidence, you know that snowball effect. And then, it's just a make-or-miss situation the last six minutes, and they made more shots than we did. So, it's tough for sure, considering how well we were playing up until that point." 

The Warriors will have two days to marinate on their collapse before heading to Staples Center for a pivotal Game 3 in the best-of-seven series. After a five-year run of dominance, Curry believes the Dubs' previous playoff losses -- of which there haven't been many -- have prepared them to bounce back.

"I think we just rely on experience and all that we've been through these last five years," Curry said. "You know we've felt worse in the locker room before, in terms of all the different playoff experiences we've had. Again, that's the beauty of the playoffs. No matter what happens from game to game, it resets, and you have another opportunity to build momentum.

"Between now and Thursday be real honest about what went wrong in that second half, make adjustments, hold ourselves accountable, and, you know, when we get on that plane, we have a fresh start to take control of the series."

Is the series all of a sudden in doubt after one loss? Of course not. The Warriors still should make quick work of the Clippers.

However, the loss did show that many of the issues that plagued the Warriors during the regular season were not cured by the lights getting brighter. There are warts that won't go away just because it's playoff time. That doesn't mean the Dubs will fail to win their third consecutive title, but the road could be bumpier than expected.

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The Game 2 loss to the Clippers guarantees they will have at least three days of less rest while preparing for a potential second-round matchup with the Houston Rockets, which could prove costly if the team can't find its consistency.

Perhaps their Game 2 collapse will serve as a wake-up call and light a fire under a team that has been sloppy to open the playoffs, expecting the Clippers to roll over without a fight.

Doc Rivers' club isn't going to do that, and the Warriors found that out the hard way in Game 2.