After losing five straight games and falling to 2-6 on the season, it’s beginning to look like make-or-break time for the Warriors.
The team enters a crucial stretch tonight against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, who enter Oracle Arena with a league-best 8-1 record. The Warriors will then be given the tall task of containing Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Thursday before hopping a plane for an East Coast road trip that will include four games in five nights.
During their current five-game skid, the Warriors have averaged 16 turnovers a game and been out-rebounded every time but once.
Are they in panic mode, though? Not a chance, says coach Mark Jackson.
"No need to hold our heads down, we’re going to be fine," Jackson said after the team’s disappointing 88-87 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. "We’ve got to make it happen. Nobody is going to hand-deliver us a win."
The game ended on a missed Monta Ellis runner that would have given the team the much-needed victory. It was the fourth straight game that was there for the taking in the fourth quarter.
Ellis, who had 32 points and six assists, took blame for the loss, but said frustration hasn’t set in for himself or his teammates.
"We still gotta find a way [to win]. Everybody here is positive, everybody here got each other’s back," Ellis said. "We just gotta find a way and get in there and see what we can do collectively, and try and stay alive."
Swingman Dorell Wright added that the team doesn’t need to overhaul anything big before their game against the Heat.
"It’s all the small things [that we need to improve on]," Wright said. "Getting defensive rebounds, getting stops when we need one, executing on the offensive end."
The Warriors will likely be without Stephen Curry again, who met with his surgeon in Charlotte on Monday to re-evaluate his surgically repaired ankle that he’s sprained three times over the last month. The earliest he’s expected to return is Saturday, when the Warriors begin their road trip against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Andris Biedrins may also sit out tonight’s game against the Heat, as he is recovering from a less serious ankle sprain. Miami has had its own share of injuries, most notably Dwyane Wade, who’s sat out the team’s last three games with a left foot contusion. He’s expected to be a game-time decision tonight.
LeBron James also sprained his left ankle last week, but only missed one game before returning to the tune of 32 points, seven rebounds and nine assists against the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.
The good news? After tonight, the Warriors won’t have to face the Heat again for the rest of the season.
Heat (8-1)vs. Warriors (2-6)
WHEN: Today, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Oracle Arena, Oakland
TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
RADIO: KNBR (680 AM)