Bucks crush Warriors in Draymond Green's absence; how much does it matter?
Is this loss a harbinger of Golden State's worst nightmares creeping up?
The Golden State Warriors got completely destroyed yesterday by the Milwaukee Bucks, 118-99.
The Splash Bros Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 7-of-22 from the field, which would actually be decent shooting night for Russell Westbrook. But when you’re the greatest shooting backcourt of all time, those numbers usually spell doom unless somebody bails the team out.
Meanwhile Giannis Antetokounmpo rampaged to 30 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and 3 blocks in 30 minutes. Draymond Green and James Wiseman, two guys I’d love to see battle against the reigning champ Antetokounmpo, were not available due to injury.
This game sent NBA social media into a frenzy because when the Warriors lose (or get blown out in this case), it’s a great time for everyone to go into detective mode.
Dang. Klay’s third game back from two near career ending injuries, no Dray or J-Wise to be interior presences, and yet the Warriors are being put forth before the tribunal for not beating the defending champions on the road. FASCINATING.
When do injuries matter?
Two seasons ago GSW’s game changing trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green didn’t play together and the team won 15 games and crash landed into the lottery.
Last year the Dubs never had their Core 3 on the floor together, had the 7th best record in the West, and were eliminated from the play-in tournament by the Memphis Grizzlies.
This year, outside of a symbolic jump ball with the Core 3 on the floor in Klay’s return before Draymond limped off the floor with a calf injury, the Warriors still have not had their three hall of famers on the floor together. They have the second best record in all of basketball.
Remember when LeBron James was asked why the 73-win Warriors were so good?
It was kind of the most backhanded compliment I had ever seen, especially considering at the time of that comment starting center Andrew Bogut had missed 6 of 15 games played. It seemed even more ridiculous when the Warriors would dominate that season despite losing starting small forward Harrison Barnes for a month.
It all tied into the narrative that the Warriors’ ascent to the top was predicated on the untimely injuries of their foes. Don’t forget that Cleveland.com literally made a list of how many times Golden State won a playoff series against a wounded team, including this wonderful nugget:
2017 Conference Semifinals vs. Utah: George Hill
The injury: This season, his first with the Jazz, George Hill had a career-best season for scoring (16.9 ppg). But he only played one game in the conference semifinals due to a toe injury. That forced Shelvin Mack, who started just nine games in the regular season, to fill in. He averaged 12.3 points per game in the series.
The impact: But the Jazz missed Hill's defensive presence at the point. They also could have used his offense because Utah only had one game with more than 100 points. But that series, even with a healthy Hill, was a bad matchup for the Jazz because of Golden State's style of play and personnel. Utah could have taken a game at home with a healthy Hill, especially in Game 3 when Mack had just 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
GEORGE HILL?! You mean the Hill who blew the game winning free throw in the 2018 NBA Finals against the Warriors that led to the infamous J.R. Smith play? WAS GEORGE HILL INJURED THEN TOO?!
I’m so glad he was playing for Cleveland when that happened #poeticjustice
But isn’t it strange how rarely the Warriors get the same benefit of the doubt? Whether it was Steph’s MCL in the 2016 playoffs, or Andre Iguodala’s knee in the 2018 Western Conference Finals, or Kevin Durant’s calf (?) in the 2019 Western Conference Semis, there’s just an expectation for the Dubs to power through and get the job done.
How convenient the rest of the NBA can handwave multiple titles and slap asterisks on Golden State’s legacy, but when the Warriors lose some January games without their roster intact, it’s an indictment on Steve Kerr or Steph Curry finally getting exposed.
These snap judgments on a team we haven’t seen at full strength reflect the instant microwave nature of basketball punditry and the desperate desire to be “RIGHT” these days. There’s no time to wait for the team’s best players to be on the floor together despite the playoffs being MONTHS away. Apparently this team isn’t winning enough NOW and something has to be done about it.
Of course there’s always room for critique when a team loses by 20 points; I’m just wondering how important January losses are when the team has effectively been dominating the league with one hand tied behind their back. Are they not allowed to ever lose? DO YOU WANNA COACH THE WARRIORS lmao.
Kerr knows what it takes for teams to win championships. It’s his steady leadership that has the Warriors with the second best record in the NBA despite injuries to key pieces and Curry’s slump. That’s right, 2nd best record in all of basketball, somehow someway. There will always be things to tinker with over a long season and adjustments to be made, but I’ve seen too many title parades in the Bay to get worked up over a January defeat. These trials by fire will make the Warriors stronger for it.
Oh damn the Warriors have a game tonight against the team with the third best record in the NBA? And Draymond isn’t playing in this one either?? RUH ROH! If they lose this…does that means they are automatically eliminated from playoff contention?!