Warriors

Warriors can't beat the team they're chasing, memories of themselves

Warriors can't beat the team they're chasing, memories of themselves

The Golden State Warriors are routinely losing ground these days to the one team they can’t realistically beat – the idealized memories of themselves.
 
As for the rest of it . . . well, that depends on your mood.
 
A lot of basketball observers and fans went into this season wrapped in the warm embrace of the Warriors-Are-Invincible narratives – maybe even the Warriors themselves. The evidence, though, is that these Warriors have limitations that the last three versions did not – starting with a defense that is nearly average (currently 11th in adjusted defense per 100 possessions after being fourth, first, seventh and second) after four straight years of being either elite or borderline elite. Their team metrics are down, their individual metrics are down, and defensive coach Ron Adams is very down.
 
And despite everything you’ve been told about the Warriors’ offense as a breathtaking force (which is mostly true), it has functioned best when sprung from a superior defense that provides easy-to-uncontested baskets and lightens the collective physical load. These days, especially since Christmas, they have been relying on their scoring to hide the fact that they don’t mind the other team scoring, rather than the other way around.
 
As a result, the number of teams that play afraid against them has been diminished. Oklahoma City, which boxed them 125-105 Tuesday night, isn’t afraid of them. Houston, which has won both games against them this year, isn’t. Boston, which split, and Toronto, which lost by five and two points, aren’t either. The best way to break another team’s will in the NBA is to show that you can keep it from scoring, and the Warriors are clearly less adept or willing to show that side of themselves.
 
But they can fix their defense, and they can re-establish their place on the necks of the rest of the field. What they cannot do is beat the hype that surrounded them this summer, when people suggested they could be at their apex as players and as a team.
 
Right now, they are on a pace to finish 62-20, with a smaller point differential and more games allowing 120 points and fewer scoring them, losing more games by double digits and winning fewer. They look less Warrior-y than at any other time in the Happiness Era, which is why one can see cracks in the palace drywall. 
 
If one wants to see them, that is. And that, too, includes the Warriors.

David West now out of the mix? Steve Kerr explains Warriors rotations in Game 3

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AP

David West now out of the mix? Steve Kerr explains Warriors rotations in Game 3

David West was in uniform on Sunday night.

But he did not receive any playing time.

Jordan Bell got the nod over West.

"Honestly, I wasn't exactly sure how I was gonna play the backup-five role," Kerr told reporters after the Warriors' 41-point win. "We went into the game thinking we're gonna see how the game goes and adapt from there.

"When Looney got in foul trouble, I just wanted to stay with our more mobile defenders on the perimeter, and so I went to Jordan instead of David.

"But that doesn't mean David's out of the loop by any means. We're gonna still need him in this series, and if we're fortunate enough to move on, we'll need him in the next one."

In Game 1, West played only four minutes and was a plus-4.

In Game 2, the 37-year old played six minutes and was a minus-6.

With the way the Rockets spread the floor and fire up 3-pointers, it's a tough matchup for West.

“Houston epitomizes the modern NBA -- 3-point shooting all over the floor, pick-and-rolls,” Kerr told reporters on Saturday. “A guy like David, we gotta pick and choose his spots.”

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

Draymond breaks down Curry's performance, 'that's what makes him more than anything'

Draymond breaks down Curry's performance, 'that's what makes him more than anything'

Draymond Green was not too impressed with Steph Curry's Game 3 outburst.

And that's not in reference to his "this is my fu**ing house" declaration in the third quarter.

"I think he had a great quarter, but I don't mean to disappoint -- but I've seen crazier from him (laughing)," Draymond told reporters. "But it was good to see."

[LISTEN: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: 'This is my fu**ing house' -- Curry explodes in Game 3]

In the first half, Curry scored just nine points and went 1-for-7 from deep.

In the second half, the two-time MVP exploded for 26 points and went 4-for-5 from 3-point territory.

Draymond knows why Curry is able to break out like he did in the third quarter.

"Very mentally tough. I think that's what makes him more than anything," the reigning Defensive Player of the Year said. "His physical toughenss is definitely underrated. He's one of the most competitive people I've ever been around. But his mental toughness -- you can't be that great of a scorer or great of a shooter without mental toughness because you're always going to face obstacles when it comes to shooting.

"Next shot mentality and that was big tonight ... that's something that's kind of been the key to his career -- his mental toughness. He didn't come in with everybody saying, 'Steph Curry would be who he is today.'

"Everybody questioned who he'd be, so that's one of his strengths for sure."

[RELATED: Sonya Curry scolds Steph, tells him 'to wash my mouth out' with soap]

Steve Kerr was also asked about Curry's toughness.

"Steph is underrated for the toughness factor," Kerr explained. "You don't become a two-time MVP just by shooting a bunch of 3s. He's got unbelievable stamina and physical toughness. Mental toughness -- you know, for four days everybody's been talking about him. What he did tonight didn't surprise any of us because that's just who he is.

"He's got unbelievable character and great talent and it always rises when it needs to."

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