The Warriors have their eyes set beyond the play-in games. They're targeting the playoffs, and as of Tuesday afternoon, were hoping they'd get there with the sixth seed in the West -- forgoing the play-in tournament altogether.
But following a 123-112 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night -- just two days after dropping what was arguably the most important game of the season to the Dallas Mavericks -- time is running out for the Warriors, and frustration is boiling over.
"It’s frustrating," Juan Toscano-Anderson said. "I’m mad as hell. I know Dray is upset, Steph is upset, everybody is upset. We all want to win. We were so close to getting into the sixth spot and that would have put us in a better position going into the playoffs. Now, it feels like everything is going to be an uphill battle.
"We want to win as many games as we can to end the season, so with every loss, every game moving forward becomes much more important. They were already important, but it's pretty much to the point where it’s life or death now."
If the Warriors had beaten the Mavericks on Tuesday, they would have narrowed the gap between the 10th and sixth seeds by one full game. If they had beaten the Timberwolves, it would have at least washed the sour taste of their loss out of their mouths. But now, the Warriors have a 31-32 record with nine games left in the regular season and are 4.5 games behind the sixth spot.
What's most frustrating for the Warriors is how they are losing. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said they lost to Dallas because they weren't prepared. He said they lost to Minnesota because of failing to pay attention to details, particularly the boards, where Golden State was outrebounded 55-34.
To Steph Curry, identifying the issues is just a small part in remedying the Warriors' problems. After all, it's what they've been doing all season long. And still, they struggle to change them.
Curry believes the Warriors have the correct foundation. As he put it, they don't have a dysfunctional group of players on the roster. But it's about execution. And whether the lack of execution is caused by lack of energy or effort, at some point you have to stop coming up with reasons for it, and just take care of the issue.
"It’s frustrating," Curry said, repeating the same words said by Toscano-Anderson. "At the end of the day, you want to win basketball games. We need to figure out what that is, practice, film, put it together in games. We’re not going to talk our way through it. I'm trying to give you as much as I can in terms of what’s wrong, but at the end of the day, it’s on us to figure it out if we want to make this season mean anything."
Following Golden State's loss in Minnesota, Curry and Draymond Green spoke to each other about the state of their team and what they have to do to maximize the remaining games on the schedule.
Both Green and Curry are in different leadership roles this season. They've never had to lead a group of young and inexperienced players and exercise the patience that comes with it.
"We do hold ourselves accountable," Curry said. "Draymond and I try to lead that throughout the season. We had some good talks after the game tonight about what we need to do ... And then we come out here and have to not sulk or carry that bad energy from night to night."
The entire Warriors roster sees Curry and Green as good leaders. They have patience, they understand that it takes an entire group to win and the young guys are still learning, and they don't get too high or too low. At least, Curry doesn't.
Yet, there's also an understanding what's transpired this season, and most recently in the last two games, are far below any expectation Curry would set for himself.
"I can look at him and see he’s frustrated. I'm sure you can too," Toscano-Anderson said. "This guy is a champ, he’s a winner, he’s used to being in the top-tier of the NBA in regards to team standings and so forth. So I’m sure he feels the same way. I’m sure he hates losing as well."
But as Curry said, he, and the rest of the Warriors, can't sulk or carry the emotional baggage from each bad loss. They have to address each mistake and then figure out how to do something about it.
"We can sit here and talk about whatever the problem was, but at the end of the day we either got to fix, or not," Curry said.