Warriors not worried about repeating 2018's poor stretch run before playoffs

Warriors not worried about repeating 2018's poor stretch run before playoffs

OAKLAND -- Marcus Smart stared in Kevin Durant's direction after hitting a 23-foot jumper with 2.6 seconds left in the first half Tuesday night.

Smart's shot capped off a 14-4 Celtics run to close the half with a 25-point lead, but the sentiment behind the Boston guard's stare provided a familiar sight for the Warriors in recent weeks. 

Since the All-Star break, the Warriors are 3-5, ranking near the bottom of the NBA in defense over that span. Last season, the team limped into its championship run, finishing the regular season 7-14. Now, following the worst loss of the Steve Kerr era, Golden State will try not to replicate last season's effort during this year's stretch run. 

So far, the Warriors have done little to quiet the comparisons to that performance. Over their last six games, Golden State has given up 119.3 points per game, while posting a 114.5 defensive rating. 

Coinciding with the slide in the Warriors' defensive performance has been its lack of depth. The team is averaging just 29.0 points off the bench, the second-worst output in the league. Last year's standout Quinn Cook, offseason acquisition Jonas Jerebko and training camp invite Alfonzo McKinnie have struggled to provide a consistent scoring punch. 

Last season, Golden State battled injuries to Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson during the last 24 games of the season, failing to find cohesion down the stretch. Now, with a healthier group, the Warriors believe this regular season won't be more of the same. 

"This year is different," said Stephen Curry, who finished with 23 points. "Last year, we had some injuries and a depleted roster. This year, we have new pieces, I'd say we have some of the same patterns that we need to correct and prove ourselves that we can do it." 

For the moment, the Warriors look stuck in mud, evidenced by Tuesday's performance.

The Celtics, who came into the matchup losers of five of their last six, shot 51.0 percent from the field and 41 percent from the 3-point range. Gordon Hayward, who came into Tuesday averaging just five points over his last five games, scored 30 points on 12-of-16 from the field in 28 minutes. 

"No sense of urgency," Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins said. "Another sluggish start. Bad energy. That was on us tonight. You can't even really get into the X's and O's or make excuses about making shots, or whatever the case may be. It started off with our energy from the beginning and regardless, came out ready to play and we didn't. Simple as that." 

[RELATED: Kerr, KD searching for answers after 'embarrassing' loss]

Fortunately for the Warriors, it isn't last year. Golden State is still 1.5 games up on the Denver Nuggets after Tuesday's loss. The teams will play at Oracle Arena on Friday night, for the top seed in the Western Conference, even though the Warriors have lost five of their last eight games.

“Whoever they play next, I wouldn’t want to be them because they’re probably going to play very hard,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. 

For the Warriors' sake, the team hopes Brown's words ring true for the rest of the season. 

Watch Steph Curry try to freestyle rap at his charity golf tournament


Watch Steph Curry try to freestyle rap at his charity golf tournament

Stephen Curry makes playing basketball look easy, but the same cannot be said about his rapping. 

The Warriors star grabbed the microphone at the Stephen Curry Charity Classic at TPC Harding Park on Monday, and freestyled ... well, something. 

"I don't know where this ball's going, and I'm sure not good at flowing," Curry rapped. 

The former line is self-deprecation, considering Curry's handicap. The latter? That's spot-on. 

[RELATED: Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't make a difference]

During his time at Davidson College, Curry and his friends rapped about a campus cafeteria in a parody set to the tune of Asher Roth's "I Love College." Much like Curry's magical NCAA tournament run foreshadowed his NBA success, his rapping on the decade-old video did the same for Monday's display. 

As far as NBA point guards with Oakland ties go, the rapping should only be left to Damian Lillard

Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft


Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft

Mention the name Mike Dunleavy Jr. to a Warriors fan, and you're likely to get a sour face in response. The No. 3 overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft never lived up to his potential over four-plus seasons in Golden State, and his seemingly relaxed disposition on the court didn't endear him any further. He was quite a talent drop-off from the first two picks of that draft -- Yao Ming and Jay Williams -- and he was selected six picks ahead of Amar'e Stoudemire, among others.

In fact, arguably the most helpful thing he ever did for the Warriors was be involved in the trade that brought Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington over from Indiana.

Time heals all wounds, though, and Dunleavy recently was involved in an important Warriors trade once again.

Dunleavy is back with Golden State, having rejoined the franchise as a pro scout last season. But as The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported Tuesday, it was his involvement in the sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell on July 1 that had plenty to do with his elevation to his current position of assistant general manager.

On the night of June 30, Dunleavy sat in a Manhattan hotel room with Warriors GM Bob Myers, trying to figure out how Golden State would proceed after learning that Kevin Durant was taking his talents to Brooklyn.

"Bob knew before everybody else, so that gave us a little bit more time to figure out what’s next,” Dunleavy told Slater. “But once that 6 p.m. time slot hit, things started flying. There was so much real-time action, intel collecting."

Having been based in New York for his scouting duties, Dunleavy got plenty of exposure to Russell during his time with the Nets, which aided in the Warriors' assessment of the dynamic guard.

"I didn’t see D’Angelo Russell play live 10, 20 times (like Mike),” Myers said. “There’s never been more information available, whether it’s analytics, your ability to watch tape, see games, dig into numbers. But I don’t think any of it is a substitute for actually going to a game in person, talking to coaches and watching the whole day develop, from when the player gets there to warm up, the stuff fans don’t see, interacting on a closer level, how they act when they get subbed out, how they react to winning and losing."

While Myers is at the head of the Warriors' basketball operations department, he encourages a collaborative decision-making process, and when it came time to decide on Russell, Dunleavy's familiarity was utilized.

"When we were faced with that short window of time, we certainly asked him,” Myers revealed. “He gave a rundown of where he thought he improved, his strengths, potential weaknesses, fit, all that."

The rest, as they say, is history.

With input from Dunleavy, Golden State made the gutsy decision to complete the sign-and-trade for Russell, which required the Warriors to depart with Andre Iguodala and multiple draft picks. The frantic events of the opening hours of free agency actually served to cement Dunleavy's interest in that kind of work, rather than deter it.

"I kind of got addicted to it," Dunleavy admitted.

Over the course of last season, Dunleavy grew more involved in the draft process. He attended several Villanova games, where he studied Golden State's second-round pick Eric Paschall, and was present for the entirety of the Big Ten Tournament, where he saw Warriors' first-round pick Jordan Poole play three times. Dunleavy then joined the rest of the front office in Oakland for the remainder of the pre-draft process, including the evaluation of prospect workouts.

Given who the Warriors ultimately selected in the draft, it's evident Golden State liked what Dunleavy had to say about both Poole and Paschall. Then, after he had further proven his value during the madness of the opening hours of free agency, Myers quickly offered Dunleavy his new elevated role.

"I’m not so arrogant to think I know more than he knows about an NBA offense," Myers conceded. "So I’m just positing questions to him. He takes a deeper look -- kind of like Andre (Iguodala) and Shaun (Livingston) -- just a brilliant basketball mind. It kind of comes naturally."

[RELATED: Iguodala planned to teach math before titles with Warriors]

Dunleavy's first go-around with the Warriors was rocky, to say the least. But if Russell proves to be a good acquisition and the draft picks pan out, the second one will be a lot smoother.