Warriors

Warriors Under Review: Steph Curry takes time summing up loss to Raptors

Warriors Under Review: Steph Curry takes time summing up loss to Raptors

OAKLAND – There is no airbrushing this one, no pointing toward an All-Star limping off and no specific element taking a one-night vacation.

The Warriors were exfoliated Wednesday night by the Toronto Raptors in a top-to-bottom, wall-to-wall destruction the Warriors have to believe can’t be repeated under postseason conditions.

Here are the positives and negatives from a 113-93 home loss that was not as close as the score indicates:

POSITIVE

There was no denial

Coach Steve Kerr after practice Thursday acknowledged the beat down, as did Stephen Curry, whom I asked if there was anything about the game that he liked. He paused. Narrowed his eyes. Tilted his head. And about 12 seconds later, he replied.

“Not really,” he said, earning laughter as well as points for thoughtful honesty.

NEGATIVE

The offense was locked up

Toronto brought such defensive aggression that even when the Warriors got open looks – and there were plenty – they were still shook by the moments of suffocation and couldn’t convert. They never got comfortable and ended up losing the game in the first half, when they shot 38.6 percent overall and 17.6 percent from deep.

The Warriors at their best are a symphony of movements, with the ball finding the most open player. The Raptors took some of that away and all too often the Warriors let them do it.

NEGATIVE

The defense took too many naps

If the first quarter is a tale of lazy defense, fixes usually come in the second or, at the latest, the third. Not this time. The number of easy backdoor cuts and leak-outs leading to Toronto baskets or forcing fouls was astounding. It went on for most of the night.

The Raptors got comfortable with the idea they could score. And they did.

This was as much about effort as execution. Toronto’s desire to score was stronger than the Warriors’ desire to defend, resulting in a how-to lesson in entering the home of a champion without your best player and taking what you want.

NEGATIVE

Livingston sustains an injury

Shaun Livingston opened the fourth quarter feeling pretty good. He left with 8:36 remaining he was in considerable discomfort. He was diagnosed with a pelvic contusion that will keep him out Friday in Sacramento and perhaps beyond.

Though this is significant at any time, it’s doubly so with Andre Iguodala out of the lineup. He and Livingston are at times interchangeable, so it’s a notable massive loss if both are out at the same time.

POSITIVE

Durant provides a reminder

The faintest shadow of hope for a comeback came in the third quarter, when the Warriors played decent defense and Kevin Durant took over the offense. He scored 13 points, on 6-of-10 shooting, accounting for half the team’s scoring in the quarter.

He finished with a game-high 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting (2-of-4 from deep).

On such nights as this, when Klay Thompson (7-of-17, 0-of-5 from deep) is missing open shots and teams are swarming and trapping Curry (3-of-12, 2-of-8), the value of Durant comes into clear focus. He becomes a necessity. 

Warriors consider lineup change vs. Clippers as they seek ruthlessness

Warriors consider lineup change vs. Clippers as they seek ruthlessness

OAKLAND – The Warriors wouldn’t ever acknowledge that they have reached the point of desperation in a first-round series. Too proud. Too accomplished.

But that’s where they are as they approach Game 6 against the Clippers, who have lost three of the first five games but never once shown any sign of surrender.

The Warriors are not necessarily desperate to win Game 6 because, should they lose, they still have Game 7.

They have to be desperate to reestablish the identity they have forged over the vast majority of Steve Kerr’s five-year run as head coach. Talented, skilled, smart, unified and ruthless.

They’re still talented and skilled. They’re generally smart. The unity has become uneven. That ruthless thing, however, has never been more elusive than this season – and it has carried over into the first five games of these playoffs.

So, on Thursday, before the team left Oakland for Los Angeles -- where Game 6 will be played on Friday -- Kerr uttered phrases that serve as euphemisms for desperation.

“Everything’s always on the table,” Kerr said. “Every playoff game, everything is always on the table. We consider everything. We go over every possibility. We hash it out. We ask the players their opinions on stuff and we make adjustments.

“That’s how the playoffs work.”

Kerr said the staff is evaluating rotations and units. Asked about a possible change in the starting lineup, he played coy.

“We could,” he said. “You never know.”

If there is a change, it will come at center. Andrew Bogut, who played so well in Games 3 and 4, struggled in the 129-121 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday. He had six points, five rebounds and two assists. He played 17 minutes and was minus-15 in the plus/minus.

Backup Kevon Looney was, by contrast, effective, as he has been for most of the series. Playing 22 minutes, he scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds, finishing a team-best plus-15.

But the issues with this team run deeper than can be solved with a single change. The Warriors have not been able to sustain the “killer instinct” required on championship teams. They’ve had it in the past, so it’s still somewhere within their collective DNA

They’re often playing it cool, even as LA is running hot. And they’re no more tired, at least physically, than the Clippers.

“I didn’t see fatigue (in Game 5),” Kerr said. “I just saw a lack of urgency, and you can’t win a playoff game without urgency. It’s not that easy.”

The first indicator of ruthlessness is effort. The Warriors brought it in Game 1 and for the better part of Game 2, before they completely and inexplicably lost it – and the game. They hit 10 on the ruthless meter in Game 3 and brought enough of it to squash a Clippers rally and prevail in Game 4.

It never appeared in Game 5.

“When we get a nice lead, we just tend to relax a little bit,” Kevin Durant said after Game 5, which the Warriors never led by more than four. “I’ve said it before, teams are looking for something just to get them back into the game.”

The Clippers didn’t so much as look for something in Game 5 as come and take it.

“More than anything, they played harder than we did,” Kerr said. “Schemes go out the window when a team plays harder than you. Schemes don’t matter unless you compete. I always say it, every year, that the first adjustment you have to make is to playing harder. And then you can get into switching rotations and matchups.

“In LA, we played really hard. In our last two home games, we let our guard down. The one thing you should know from watching the Clippers all years is that this is a competitive, fun team that enjoys playing together. They’re not going to go away. You’ve got to put them away by competing.”

[RELATED: Beverley's grit and hustle has Clips on Dubs' heels]

The Warriors in Game 5 met most of their offensive goals. They had 31 assists and eight turnovers. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant combined for 91 points on 49.1-percent shooting. They know they have the Curry/Durant pick-and-roll, and they’ll use it if a boost is needed. But the problem in Game 5, as well as the pivotal portion of Game 2, was an utter lack of defensive focus, execution and effort.

They fixed it last postseason and won a championship.

The Warriors know the formula. Desperate times in the NBA playoffs call for an inspired defense. Without it, even the Warriors are vulnerable.

Montrezl Harrell has message for Warriors after Clippers' Game 5 win

Montrezl Harrell has message for Warriors after Clippers' Game 5 win

The Los Angeles Clippers are feeling themselves, and for good reason.

Given zero chance to beat the Warriors heading into their first-round NBA playoff series, the Clippers have pushed the two-time defending champions to a Game 6 back in Los Angeles on Friday.

Down 3-1 in the series, most expected the Clippers to roll over Wednesday in Game 5. But Lou Williams dropped 33 points and Montrezl Harrell added 24 as the Clippers grabbed a 129-121 win.

After the victory, Harrell had a quick, NSFW message for the Dubs and he screamed it as he sprinted back to the locker room.

"Bring that ass back to LA" Harrell shouted, via The Undefeated's Marc Spears.

Careful what you wish for.

While the Warriors have admittedly been looking past the Clippers to a potential second-round date with the Warriors, the Dubs likely will be locked in Friday. Golden State was all the firepower needed to smolder the pesky Clippers, and the last thing they want is to have an unnecessary Game 7 because they were unfocused at the task at hand.

[RELATED: Lou Williams thinks Dubs made mistake by looking ahead to Rockets]

Harrell has been an issue for the Warriors all series, tormenting them in the pick-and-roll with Williams. His energy and ferocity have been unmatched by anyone on the Warriors, including Draymond Green. 

But with the Dubs having to bring their derrieres back to Southern California, we expect the Warriors' energy level will be a little different in Game 6.