Maybe they’re not that good?
If you’re a Golden State Warriors fan and that thought hasn’t crossed your mind yet, it should. The Warriors have lost six of their last eight games, an ugly stretch of basketball capped last night by a 103-93 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings made the Warriors’ perimeter defense pay, combining to score 57 points on 20-of-35 shooting from the field, and newly minted Buck JJ Redick knocked down a pair of timely threes in the game’s closing minutes to stifle any momentum generated by Carl Landry, whose turnaround jumper pulled the Warriors within one with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors squandered Landry’s 18 point, 10 rebound effort in place of an injured David Lee on turnovers and poor defense. Golden State turned the ball over 17 times last night, including three times in the final four minutes of play, which in turn created ample opportunity for Jennings and Ellis to ice the game from the line.
As damaging as those turnovers proved to be, Golden State’s shoddy perimeter defense enabled Milwaukee shooters hit 13 threes on only 28 attempts (including a six-of-11 night for Jennings, who scored 31 points on 62.5 percent shooting overall).
The Warriors recent struggles can be a attributed to many factors – a tough stretch of road games and unfavorable match-ups account for many of the team’s seven losses since the All Star break. But those struggles have been exacerbated by awful defense and poor ball handling; opponent three point shooting has improved from .341 to .370 since the break. Meanwhile, the Warriors are averaging an additional turnover per game (15.7 compared to 14.8), which puts them in Houston Rockets/Washington Wizards territory for worst turnover rate in the league.
And as much as I hate to say it, a lot of the above can be credited to Stephen Curry. The speed of players like Ellis or Jennings creates challenges for any defender, but Curry’s consistent inability to effectively challenge a shot or stop his man at the perimeter has become a legitimate liability as the Warriors make their final push for a playoff berth.
Steph has averaged a remarkable 26 points and 7.4 assists since the break, but he’s also giving up the ball 4.1 times per game. And although he’s shown off some impressive handles as of late – ex. his first quarter crossover against Jennings on the right wing – his occasional struggles as the primary ball handler has killed Warrior possessions at some very inopportune times.
- The Warriors can point to a few excuses for last night’s loss (though I doubt they will). David Lee was scratched prior to the game with a knee injury. And although Andrew Bogut has started to show signs of life, his unwillingness to take a shot from anywhere outside the low post limits the Warriors’ offensive capabilities. Also, playing back-to-backs, even at home, are inevitably difficult.
- Monta Ellis on playing in Oakland after the game (per NBA.com): “You never know, I might have to come back here and retire.”