Does any team in the NBA need the All-Star break more than the Golden State Warriors? After watching the team’s 116-91 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, the fourth straight loss for the Dubs, it’s difficult to argue otherwise.
Golden State has strung together four straight defeats for the first time all season, and Saturday’s debacle might have been the worst of the four. The Warriors looked gassed from the outset, as Dallas ended the first quarter on a blistering 21-5 run that effectively buried Golden State before they ever had a chance to generate momentum.
From then on, it was hit-or-miss, by which I mean Dallas hit every shot, and Golden State missed every shot. The Warriors are playing tired, to be sure, but their luck also appears to be running on empty. Even Stephen Curry, the one bright spot in the dreary four-game skid, scored “only” 18 points and shot just eight of 23 from the field, far below the star point guard’s standards.
By halftime, the Warriors were down 26 and had CSN Bay Area studio host Greg Papa digging into his history book.
“Don’t drive by the Texas School Book Depository”, Papa said when prompted to give a key to Golden State’s success in the second half.
Not surprisingly, Papa’s “key” didn’t help matters. Golden State never got close, and a big reason why was a suddenly punchless bench that sorely misses the presence of Jarrett Jack. Without Jack, Mark Jackson has been forced to use Kent Bazemore far more often than he’d like, and Bazemore has appeared slightly overmatched. The only non-starter to reach double figures was Carl Landry, who was also the only Warrior to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
Of course, it wasn’t just Golden State’s struggles that contributed to the loss. The Mavericks pushed the lead to as large as 29 thanks to big nights from Shawn Marion (a season-high 26 points) and O.J. Mayo (19). The Mavs took their defensive cue from the Rockets, Thunder and Grizzlies and limited the Warriors’ chances inside, forcing Curry and company to constantly search for outside shots that simply were not falling.
Perhaps most concerning for the Warriors was the alarming lack of defense, the common theme in the four-game losing streak. Only the Grizzlies failed to score at least 115 points against Golden State. The hallmark of the “new and improved” Warriors, a renewed commitment to stopping their opponents’ attack, has fallen victim to an obvious fatigue. After a one-off at home against the Rockets on Tuesday, the same Rockets that put up a whopping 140 points against the Warriors to kick-start the four game downswing, Golden State will get a much-needed week long respite.
Now just 30-21, the Warriors find themselves two games behind Memphis and in the Western Conference’s sixth slot, a position that won’t change before the All-Star Game in Houston. A win at home against the Rockets will go a long way towards changing the team’s outlook before the crucial second half of the season begins, a stretch that will determine whether the Warriors make their first playoff appearance since the days of “We Believe.”