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:
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.
Stephen Curry thought long and hard when asked if he liked anything about loss to Toronto. Steph: “Not really.” pic.twitter.com/tct1IX9Z9I— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 13, 2018
“Not really,” he said, earning laughter as well as points for thoughtful honesty.
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.
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.
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.
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.