SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors have 81 games remaining on the schedule, so they can take a modicum of comfort in knowing they will not always look as overmatched as they did on opening night at Chase Center.
They’ll get better, and perhaps all of their opponents will be worse than the deep and splendid Los Angeles Clippers, who might be the best team in the NBA.
But, honestly, there will be other games when they will look helpless, games with at least some resemblance to the 141-122 pummeling they absorbed from the Clippers on Thursday night.
“We just got crushed tonight,” Draymond Green said.
“We f--king sucked.”
There will be more games when their leaky defense is sliced and diced, allowing an avalanche of easy buckets, as the Clippers enjoyed.
There will be games when their offense simply is unable to survive eight turnovers by Steph Curry, as was the case Thursday night.
“It’s one of 82,” Curry said. “But there are some glaring things that we need to correct if we’re going to win basketball games consistently.”
Then, too, there are going to be games when the Warriors dash and splash and make some arrogant squad pay a steep price for presuming victory.
But Warriors fans who have grown accustomed to their favorite team winning, often with style, must now accept the unvarnished truth. This season will be unlike anything they’ve seen since Steve Kerr took over as coach in 2014. Unlike anything they saw in Mark Jackson’s last two seasons as coach.
“This is more the reality of the NBA,” Kerr said. “The last five years we’ve been living in a world that isn’t supposed to exist. Five years, basically, record-wise, the best stretch anybody has had over five years. This is reality.”
The Warriors are transitioning from a team built to win championships to one learning how to win in the regular season. They’ve gone from wonderful to hopeful, from a direct line to June to a treacherous path to April.
And it’s going to be tough for fans to accept. They didn’t on Thursday, fleeing for the exits late in the third quarter, with the Warriors trailing by 28 and no hope of a comeback.
This season will be more like those in which Antawn Jamison or Jason Richardson or Monta Ellis might go off. More like the back-to-back competitive teams that Baron Davis led to 42 wins and the playoffs in 2007 and 48 wins and no playoffs the following season.
More like what the Warriors sold in those seasons when they were hoping to reach the postseason or at least go .500.
The Warriors shot 39.4 percent, the Clippers 62.5. The Warriors dropped to 35.7 percent beyond the arc, the Clippers scorched at 56.2 percent. The Warriors won the rebounding battle (42-39) and committed fewer turnovers (13-20), but their efficiency was miles beneath that of the Clippers.
“Credit the Clippers,” Curry said. “They came off a pretty hard-fought, intense battle in LA in (on beating the Lakers on Tuesday). So, they were battle-tested in terms of being in that situation. They started that first six minutes with that same intensity. We fought our way back into it, made it interesting.
“And then they hit us with our typical third quarter.”
LA blasted away for 46 points in the third quarter, burying the Warriors.
Curry had allowed himself, subconsciously, to reminisce. There were many times over the past five seasons when the Warriors used the third quarter to blow away an opponent. It was their magical 12 minutes and it happened often enough to anticipate.
Those days are gone. Those third quarters will not be typical of this team.
Nothing will be typical except a near-equal amount of winning and losing, frustrating nights followed by refreshing ones. It is, indeed, the new normal.