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Warriors melt down late, early, and often
lack of depth and concerning patterns rear their ugly heads in loss to Nuggets
It was tied at 85 in the third quarter. I stepped away for a moment and then came back to a blowout. A 16-0 run in the time it took me to extract one child from the bath and clear the room for the teenager to take her shower. It’s not like the Golden State Warriors were out of their depth against the Denver Nuggets, it just felt more like they got sloppy and the other side didn’t.
It’s a familiar feeling this season. After gutting their depth and rebuilding around their core crew, this team has been challenging to believe in at times. Tonight might have been the low point.
Coming in to last night’s game, the Golden State Warriors were on a three game win streak - their longest of the season. Now, just two nights later (and two losses) everything feels a whole lot less hopeful. 12 of the Warriors’ losses have now come by at least double digits.
More concerning though is just how reliably faulty this team has been. They had a decent lead to open the game, and then melted down heading into halftime.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that coach Steve Kerr doesn’t trust the depth that his front office has assembled for him. When James Wiseman finally did crack the rotation tonight, he was largely ignored by his teammates on offense. Maybe none of this matters.
Which is the really tricky part about rooting for this team. If the proof of concept here is that the core eight (or whatever the number is that Kerr trusts) can win when it matters, then we won’t be able to see that yet. The Warriors are still hovering around the edges of relevance. Entrenched in a cold war of playoff positioning, Golden State’s postseason dreams are still alive - if perhaps getting more and more of that cloudy dream aura around the edges of the picture.
Right now, this is a team riding the bleeding edge of the sword. The margins are as thin as they’ve ever been. The aging core looking as vulnerable as they ever have while all being on the court together. And the clock is ticking on getting it all together. There are some real issues here. Whether or not the Warriors can overcome them or not doesn’t mean that it’s all good in Golden State right now.
Stephen Curry was solid, if not great tonight (28 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists). His turnovers - all six of them - hurt a lot. It’s not just the scale of them, but the timing. It felt like numerous runs were started after Curry turned the ball over; most of them were unforced errors.
I’m not saying it won’t get better, but likewise, neither can I assure you that things aren’t going to get worse.
If a trade is coming, it’s going to happen soon. The Warriors are effectively carrying five or six “dead” roster spots - players that aren’t going to crack even the regular season non-garbage time rotation, barring catastrophe.
But again, this is a tough team to write all the way off. Not with Curry, Thompson, Looney, Wiggins, and Green. I wouldn’t bet against that core in a playoff series in a vacuum. This isn’t exactly a vacuum, of course. Drag into the playoffs after playing a short rotation all season and barely white knuckling your way into the playoffs, and it makes for an even heavier lift for your aging vets.
On the bright side, Jonathan Kuminga looks pretty darn good. Playable in big moments even. It’s not that crazy to think that if the team (and Curry) cleaned up a few things, this could have been a win. I’m just delusional enough to believe. But it’s harder sometimes than others.