Warriors collapse late to Timberwolves; playoff picture still up for grabs
WHAT A GUT PUNCH!
The Golden State Warriors were well on their way to a classic home win at Chase Center last night. The crowd was rocking, Gary Payton II was on the floor looking healthy, Jordan Poole was cooking with fish grease, and Stephen Curry was hitting no-look bombs.
And the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves were on the edge of being knocked out. And yet, much like what happened when the Warriors blew a double-digit lead to Minnesota earlier in the year, the Dubs could not secure the win.
There’s nothing quite like the gut punch that comes when you think everything’s going great, before the good times suddenly unravel before your eyes. Something like a desert mirage that lures in a wandering, dehydrated traveler with the optical illusion of refreshing water. Or that feeling when you’re unwrapping a thin crappy bacon cheeseburger at the drive-thru that looks NOTHING like the picture on the menu.
The champs made Dub Nation feel that kinda gasping meltdown last night. The home team held a 96-94 lead with 57.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Poole had the rock in his hands, with an opportunity to put the final dagger into the Wolves. Flanked by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson against a weary opponent, the moment was there for the seizing. Annnd this was the shot the Dubs got:
I can’t tell from Klay’s body language if he was shrugging out of frustration or if he was preemptively celebrating? But that was a ballsy stepback shot by the young Poole that couldn’t have been what Coach Steve Kerr was looking for.
The Dubs hacked Rudy Gobert on the other end and he split free throws. Cool, the Warriors got the ball back up 96-95 with 27.1 seconds to go. Time to REALLY put the dagger in right?
Uhhhh, no, not quite apparently. Behold this possession:
Keep in mind the Dubs had available timeouts that they could have used at anytime if they felt panicked about the Timberwolves defense. Also if anyone of them just waits until they get fouled (since they had a foul to give), then they inbound the ball with less time on the clock, closer to victory. In the beginning of that clip you can see Minnesota guard Mike Conley try to foul Curry on purpose and then look at the refs out of frustration for no whistle being blown. It was clear what Minnesota’s strategy was there.
AND worst come to worst just keep the ball in the hands of Steph, Klay, and Poole who are are top-tier elite free throwers who have iced several games at the free throw line before. There’s a lot of options for positive outcomes here, just not Draymond Green getting his pass snatched, leading to a Karl-Anthony Towns dagger.
TERRIBLE. But the Dubs stillll had a chance to tie the game or take the lead down 98-96. That’s when Poole had a turnover that sent chills down Dub Nation’s spine.
Damn damn damn. The Warriors would have one more chance to win the game after the Wolves split another pair of free throws, but an errant Curry heave clanged off the rim, putting the Warriors down for the night.
Tough loss. The Dubs are still in the 6th seed in the standings right now, one game behind Phoenix for the fourth seed. They’re also potentially two losses away from being out of the playoff picture all together.
With no All-Star Andrew Wiggins return in sight, this could very well be the team that marches towards the finish line. These costly late game mistakes have put the defending champs in a position with very little margin for error. But they’re also pretty close to hosting a first round playoff series at home where, last night notwithstanding, they’re pretty dominant.
I never let myself get too down about these things because of the deep confidence I have in who these guys are. They are proven champions with the heart and will to overcome even the most ridiculous of scenarios. But that was a pretty frustrating loss by the nature of letting it slip through their fingers in such a bizarre way.
And without Wiggins, and with Father Time creeping up on the Core 3 while the youngsters figure out their roles, this window isn’t guaranteed to be open.
So they gotta do what legends do and bust through the glass to make their own way, opinions and predictions be damned!
DON’T LET ONE LOSS BEAT YOU TWICE, DUBS! SHAKE IT OFF CHAMPS, YOU GOT MORE WORK TO DO BABYYY! THE TIME IS NOW!