Steve Kerr and the Warriors closed out the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season on a tough note, with three consecutive losses, including two by 20-plus points.
The Warriors are 19-18 heading into the All-Star break, holding down the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings. Kerr was asked following Thursday night's loss about what his team learned over the first 37 games of the season, and spoke about his takeaways from a campaign unlike any the NBA has ever seen.
"One of the things we learned was that we could play defense at a pretty high level in this league, but we haven't found that two-way balance that the best teams have," Kerr explained to reporters after the 120-98 loss in Phoenix.
"So we have to continue to search, I think you're gonna see us juggle some spots in the rotation and try some different combinations and just keep searching for the right formula to try to give us that two-way capability that will help us win close games and stay in this playoff fight and put us in good position to go to the postseason."
The Warriors' defense has been playing at a very high level throughout the season, as Golden State ranks sixth in defensive rating (109.3), led by Draymond Green continuing to bring his elite versatility and leadership on that end.
But Kerr is correct, the balance has not been there.
The Warriors have the 22nd-ranked offensive rating in the NBA, and despite having the second-fastest pace in the league, rank just 13th in points per game.
Consistent scoring behind Steph Curry has been few and far between, for while Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre have lived up to (and even exceeded, in Wiggins' case) their defensive potential, their offensive production hasn't been as dependable.
Rookie James Wiseman is coming along well for a guy with such minimal experience against high-level competition before coming to the NBA, but he can't be expected to be a 15 and 10 guy right away at just 19 years old.
The Warriors got the chance to analyze some potential remedies to those offensive woes on Thursday night, as Jordan Poole and Nico Mannion made their first appearances with the NBA squad after putting up big numbers with the Santa Cruz Warriors in G League play.
With Curry, Green and Oubre all sidelined for the first half finale, Poole poured in 26 points and made five of his 10 attempts from 3-point range, a major step up from his career 29.3 percent mark from outside.
Mannion, who was a second-round draft pick in 2020, made just three of his 10 shot attempts overall, but a 3-5 clip shooting from three is a promising number for the Warriors.
These two could help take some pressure off the Warriors' starting five as the second half begins, but the offense will need to pick up if Golden State wants to remain within the playoff picture.
The Warriors' remaining strength of schedule ranks 23rd out of 30 NBA teams per Tankathon, so things are positioned well for a big second half.