The Warriors limped into the NBA All-Star break with a 29-29 record after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, and the mood around the team following the game was angsty with a pinch of hope.
Draymond Green didn't bite his tongue when addressing the Warriors' defensive issues, while Klay Thompson expressed confidence that the team still could make a run at a second straight NBA championship.
A day later, ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson sounded off on what he has seen from the Warriors this season during a discussion with "NBA Today" host Malika Andrews and fellow analysts Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne.
"Their offense is solid, but their defense is trash," Jefferson said of the Warriors. "They know that. Do they have enough time? Even when they talked about last season, they talked about 'Well, we had a 25-5 start that we could count on mentally, that once we got our guys back, we could do it.' They don't have that [this season].
"They're even trying to go get their old magic back. 'Gary Payton, you're hurt and we're paying you more money than we offered you? Doesn't matter. Come back. We need help.' They're on life support. Draymond knows that. The Warriors know that, and everything you see looks like life support. Not that they are going to be trash or anything. But they are not even remotely close to the quality they expect and we expect from them."
During the regular season last year, the Warriors allowed the third fewest points per game at 105.5, only behind the Boston Celtics (104.5) and the Dallas Mavericks (104.7). But this season, Golden State is allowing 118.5 points per game, the fourth most in the NBA. The three teams worse than them -- San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets -- are battling for odds to land the No. 1 overall draft pick.
The Warriors currently are in ninth place in the Western Conference entering Wednesday's slate of NBA games. With 24 games remaining and Steph Curry expected to miss time after the All-Star break, Golden State is in danger of having to fight their way out of the play-in tournament just to get into the playoffs.
And even if the Warriors make it out of the play-in tournament, that would result in a best-of-seven-game series with either the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the West. At the moment, those teams are the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies, two teams Golden State took down in the playoffs last season.
While the Nuggets and Grizzlies would be favored to win a first-round series against the Warriors this year, Jefferson and Andrews believe the higher seeds would be slightly nervous knowing what they would be up against.
"Let me say this," Jefferson said. "If the Warriors were to get into the eight [seed], and this is the part where the Denver fans or the Memphis fans, if they get the seven or eight [seed]... "
"Yeah, no one wants to face them," Andrews said.
"I'm not picking [the Warriors], but I ain't picking against them," Jefferson concluded.
When a puzzled Lowe pressed Jefferson on his last comment, the former Warriors forward explained what he meant.
"You know what I'm talking about," Jefferson said. "I'm not picking the Warriors to beat Denver, but I'm not going to bet against them. I'm not going to bet against a four-time championship squad."
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The Warriors' championship pedigree will make them a tough out in the NBA playoffs, but they have to get there first. And that task starts Thursday, Feb. 23 against the Lakers in Los Angeles.