Warriors

Warriors Under Review: Season-long trend continues in loss to Celtics

Warriors Under Review: Season-long trend continues in loss to Celtics

The Warriors-Celtics matchup was seen as a Finals preview when the NBA schedule was released last summer. But, after a decisive 128-95 win by Boston Tuesday night, it looks like the Celtics are the team with eyes on June. 

The Celtics pounced on the champs early, jumping to an 11-0 lead in the opening minutes. 

The loss marks the Warriors fifth in their last eight contests, leaving the champs in familiar territory as they begin their stretch run. 

Here are the positives and negatives from the game: 

NEGATIVE

Slow start

That looked familiar. 

As mentioned above, the Warriors again found themselves not mentally prepared for the moment. Following a 12-1 Golden State run to cut the Celtic lead to 13-12, Boston's advantage quickly grew to more than 20. 

Tuesday marked the fourth straight game the Warriors have been down five or more points in the first quarter, continuing a trend that's been around all season. 

The Warriors have more than enough talent to win each game they play in. Their problems lie within their ability to get up for games and show up with the appropriate amount of respect for their opponent.

NEGATIVE 

Defense

There wasn't much of it. 

The Celtics got every shot they wanted, highlighted by a 41-24 second-quarter run that blew the game open. Boston shot 51 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. 

Boston forward Gordon Hayward, who has been struggling most of the season, scored a season-high 30 points in 28 minutes off the bench. What's more disheartening is the Celtics came into Oracle Arena in a slump, having lost five of their last six games. This was a game for the Warriors to make a statement and they chose not to. 

NEGATIVE 

Kevin Durant's shot

He couldn't find it. 

On a night the Warriors couldn't find much offense, Durant struggled, scoring 18 points on 5-of-16 from the field. 

Durant has been struggling from the field (by his standards) as of late. Over his last four games, he's shooting just 42 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from 3-point range. 

Durant is a transcendent scorer who can heat up at any moment so there shouldn't be much worry going forward. 

[RELATED: Durant, Kerr searching for answers]

POSITIVE

Stephen Curry can shoot!

Could there more of that on the way?

After struggling from the field during Golden State's most recent four-game road trip, Curry found his shot, scoring 23 points on 8-of-16 from the field, including four 3-pointers. 

Curry led the run to briefly get the Warriors back into the game in the first quarter before the wheels fell off. In a blowout loss with not much good to be found, a good shooting performance from Curry could be a welcome sign for the Warriors going forward.

Why Warriors shouldn't be concerned about Suns' undefeated bubble run

Why Warriors shouldn't be concerned about Suns' undefeated bubble run

The Phoenix Suns deserve a ton of credit for going a perfect 8-0 in the Orlando bubble, and nearly earning their way into the play-in tournament between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the Western Conference.

Devin Booker was unbelievable, averaging 30.5 points and 6.0 assists, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. One of the best moments out of all of the seeding games was his game winner vs. the LA Clippers at the buzzer.

(Quick side note -- the team's official Twitter account produced some incredible content over the last couple of weeks, and pretty much became a must-follow.)

Because of what the Suns accomplished in the 2019-20 season restart, there are people across the basketball world who are expecting big things next season.

Should the Warriors view Phoenix as a legitimate threat in the West, or at the very least a team that definitely will be competing for a playoff spot? In short, the answer is no. Pump the brakes.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

It just was one week ago when Golden State forward Draymond Green disparaged the Suns' organization, saying he wishes Booker could leave the franchise because playing there is "not good for his career." Since 2010 -- when the Suns last made the playoffs -- they have finished with a winning record one time. Furthermore, it's well known that ownership isn't exactly committed to spending the necessary money on the roster, and it's fair to assume things could get worse on the financial front because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The reality is that Phoenix entered the bubble with no expectations whatsoever, and absolutely had nothing to lose. As mentioned before, they should be showered with praise for not mailing it in. They took it to heart to improve individually and collectively, and wanted to prove the NBA right simply for including them.

Mission accomplished.

But yours truly isn't going to take the Suns seriously until we see how they perform when legitimate stakes are on the line. Let's see if they can rise to the occasion when the opposition treats them like a legitimate threat, and they aren't able to sneak up on teams.

If fans return to arenas at some point next season, will the Suns be able to go on the road and win consistently? When adversity hits and they're feeling pressure, how will they respond?

Furthermore, while it's way too early to fully project the landscape (we got to see what happens with the NBA draft and free agency in October), we know the Western Conference is loaded.

[RELATED: Will Dubs contend for '21 title? 'Hell yes,' Kirk Lacob says]

The nine 2020 playoff teams aren't going anywhere, and the New Orleans Pelicans (if they stay healthy) should be vastly improved. And then there's the Warriors, who typically play the Suns four times each season because they're in the same division. The Dubs expect to go from the team with the worst record in the NBA, to legitimate 2020-21 title contenders.

Plain and simple -- it's going to be very, very hard for the Suns to reach the postseason next year. And we doubt the Warriors are losing any sleep thinking about the franchise coach Steve Kerr was the general manager of from 2007 to 2010.

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Warriors fans might take coronavirus tests upon entering Chase Center

Warriors fans might take coronavirus tests upon entering Chase Center

Joe Lacob doesn't sound concerned at all about revamping the roster this October to put the Warriors in position to contend for the title next season.

In fact, it seems like Golden State's owner and CEO is more focused on another key area.

"Our biggest challenge is going to be the virus and getting fans back in the stands," Lacob told Larry Beil this week on ABC7's "With Authority" podcast. "That's what we are built to do -- have a great audience and entertain our fans, as well as win a championship. So we really want to do that.

"We're working really hard in that regard, to try to figure out a way that we can resume play with fans."

Lacob is uniquely positioned to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as he earned a master's in epidemiology from UCLA. He never thought that degree would be put to use in his professional life.

But now, it has great importance. And Lacob is at the forefront of the NBA's quest to get fans in arenas for games as soon as possible.

"I've worked with the league extensively on the testing strategies with respect to what's going on in the bubble," he told Beil. "And we're actually doing the same thing in terms of trying to lead the way (for) how we're going to maybe test fans as an example -- if need be -- when we resume play."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

So yes -- if you want to attend a Dubs game at Chase Center next season, it's possible that you will get tested for COVID-19 -- and get an immediate result -- before you are permitted to enter the building.

Then again, this probably only becomes a possibility if the city of San Francisco and public health experts give the Warriors clearance to allow fans through the doors. Additionally, it's possible the NBA returns to some form of a bubble format and avoids games in local markets altogether.

Myriad options remain on the table, and there is no timetable for when the league's plan will be finalized.

[RELATED: Report: Dubs might get clearance for team practices at Chase]

But regardless of the logistics, Lacob expects the Warriors to win a lot of games no matter where they are played.

"It really does look like things are lining up for us to be a very good team next year," he said. "It's hard to say (when) you're the worst team in the league that you're gonna be a contender for the title -- but I do think we will be."

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram