A morning of reflection and practice for the Warriors was followed by an afternoon of withering self-critiques, with both coach Steve Kerr and Draymond Green slapping themselves around.
“I sucked last night in guiding people on the floor,” Green said Saturday afternoon. “I didn't talk much, which is who I am. I’ve got to be better in that space, for sure.”
Green’s coordinative communication, on offense and defense, is the aspect of his game that best maximizes the skills of his teammates. It was absent Friday night in a 123-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in the home opener.
“We’re just disorganized at both ends of the floor, and that's on me as the head coach,” Kerr said. “So, we have to get more organization, and that’s what we worked on today at practice.”
It’s going to get better. The Warriors are not going to shoot 39.8 percent from the field, currently worst in the NBA, all season. They’re not going to shoot 30.6 percent from distance, also worst in the league, all season. They won’t be out-rebounded in every game and they won’t be bottom-three, as they are after five games.
Meanwhile, with five games in and 67 to go, much of the fan base is growing restless. The Warriors haven’t looked like the Warriors they’ve known and loved.
News flash: That’s not going to happen.
These Warriors, even in victory, are bound to experience more ragged spells and lapses in execution than those who captured so much attention and gained such adulation in recent years. The bar that was set six seasons ago and at one point featured a roster with as many as five players headed to the Basketball Hall of Fame, is too high for this squad to reach.
To expect this group -- with only four players over 25 -- to approach that is irrational. No team has ever had a shooting trio that matches Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, all of whom were in mid-prime. Few teams have had a duo of defensive savants the equal of Andre Iguodala and Green.
“Every team at this point is work in progress,” Green said. “If you are team that don't think you’re a work in progress, you will be looking back in July trying to figure out where’d you miss the work. I don't think there's many teams that have played more than six games, maybe seven. If you’re not a work in progress after six or seven games, good luck.
“I personally think I've played on the greatest NBA team in history. In Game 7 [of the 2016 NBA Finals], we were a huge work in progress.”
To expect the Warriors to play competent basketball is reasonable. They have a talented starting lineup, including 19-year-old center James Wiseman. Their bench is uneven and variable, as anticipated, so there will be many unsightly moments before there is improvement.
Though the early failures have been alarming – three absolute blowout losses – they nonetheless are early failures.
“That's what the early part of this season is going to be like, frankly,” Kerr said. “It's going to be about taking some lumps and then refusing to give in, but rather take the lessons that we learned, work on those things and then come out and compete like crazy the next game and execute better.”
At 2-3, the Warriors woke up Saturday with the same record as the Miami Heat, who in October represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The standings revealed the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, co-favorites to win the East, were 3-3. The Dallas Mavericks, a playoff team many believe is ready to make a deeper run in 2021, also were 2-3.
“Some teams are further along than others,” Green said, “but everybody's a work in progress at this point. The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off winning a championship, and they’re a work in progress.”
As stated earlier in this space, whether the Warriors through 10 games are 3-7 or 7-3 likely won’t have much impact on where they finish.
“We’re going through this mini-dynamic of shifting on the fly, understanding what we can run, what we can do better and how to simplify things with new personnel on the floor,” Kerr said. “For a team that’s never been together before, it’s not an easy thing to do.”
Kerr added that he is confident that the Warriors, with bounce back Sunday against the Blazers with a performance more indicative of their ability.
Know this: If they look anything like they did Friday -- clobbered early and never recovered -- Friday night’s restlessness will become Sunday night’s angst. With good reason.