The Warriors got their second consecutive dose of championship quality basketball on Christmas Day, and while the results were the same, a lopsided loss, there was evident progress -- at least in the first half.
In falling 138-99 to the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum, the Warriors showed more competitive spirit than on opening night but simply were the inferior team. The gap between the two was unmistakable in an abominable, white-flag second half.
The Warriors continue to get open looks and continue to miss them. They shot 22.2 percent (10-of-45) beyond the arc and 34.3 percent overall.
The high point? Rookie center James Wiseman delivered a second encouraging performance, with 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes.
Here are three takeaways from a loss that drops Golden State to 0-2, the first time since 2009 that they’ve opened consecutive seasons with back-to-back losses:
The defense, which has to be emphasized for the Warriors to compete, once again was wildly inconsistent. It’s solid for a possession or two, and then invisible for three or four. And don’t dare blame it on the absence of Draymond Green.
When the Warriors don’t look a step slow, or a beat late, they look undermanned. Caught flat-footed when they should be on alert. Watching off-the-ball action and losing contact with their assignments.
As they were limiting Giannis Antetokounmpo to 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting, his teammates were feasting. Milwaukee shot 54.9 percent from the field, including an astonishing 54.1 percent from deep.
Green is the defensive quarterback for a team currently without one. His return, anticipated Wednesday, will help. And right now, the Warriors need all the help they can get.
The safe presumption entering the season was that wings Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. would need a few games together to coalesce. Two games in, that is abundantly clear.
They shot 7-of-28 on Friday, marginally better than their 7-of-30 night on Tuesday.
Wiggins picked up his aggression, as needed, and actually had some impressive moments on offense. But his shot remains errant, which kills his efficiency. He scored 12 points on 6-of-18 shooting, including 0-of-4 from deep.
Oubre looks like a man lost in his own personal forest. His energy usually is good, but he cannot dunk his way into 15 points. He missed every perimeter shot he took, finishing with three points on 1-of-10 shooting, 0-of-5 from distance.
The entire team struggled beyond the arc, but the Warriors are in trouble if these two can’t find the bottom of the net.
Steph Curry got the expected, a jersey full of Jrue Holiday, with a couple of his friends nearby.
Though this is connected to the struggles of Wiggins and Oubre -- the Bucks sagged off both to focus on Curry -- part of the problem is Curry trying so hard to beat the pressure. He’s not a guy that presses, but he’s looking around and seeing not much help.
He scored a team-high 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including a second straight game in which he was 2-of-10 from deep.
Can’t blame him if he feels he has to make things happen, but it’s hurting him. The upside is that there is no reason to believe this will last.