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Warriors fans can’t breathe easy with playoffs on horizon

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) takes the ball to the rim against LA Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on February 22, 2018. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The playoffs are finally here for the Golden State Warriors after they laid an egg in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz, losing by 40 to cap off the regular season.

If you’re concerned about the first round of the playoffs, knowing Stephen Curry will be out with an MCL Grade 2 sprain in his left knee, I can’t fault you. Warriors basketball has been anything but pretty over the last few weeks.

In their last 20 games, the Warriors are 10-10 (7-10 basically without Curry), and just 1-9 in their last 10 games against playoff teams, getting outscored by a whopping 138 points.

Look, I’ve told you all before, this playoff run is going to be bumpy. Don’t expect another 16-1 run in the postseason. The NBA is better across the board, and in the loaded Western Conference, it wouldn’t shock me to see all four matchups in the first round go at least 5-6 games.

You just wonder how quickly the Warriors can jell once Curry returns. Despite winning 58 games, they slept walked through the regular season and the four All-Stars played only 41 games together this season.

I believe the Warriors can flip the switch once the playoffs start, but defensively, assistant coach Ron Adams must be sick of watching the team blow defensive assignments.

When Curry missed 11 games in December with an ankle injury, the Warriors adjusted and locked in on the defensive end, allowing only 99 points a game. Heck, I was advocating for Kevin Durant, who at one point was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.

But with his usage rate going up due to the increased ball handling duties, Durant’s defense has suffered. The Warriors as a whole have been atrocious, giving up an average of 111 points since Curry suffered his knee injury March 23 against the Atlanta Hawks, and that was before they gave up 119 to the Jazz on Tuesday evening.

With all of the different lineup combinations head coach Steve Kerr has had to employ, Durant mentioned after the loss to Utah how it’s destroyed the Warriors rhythm.

“I just feel like there was so much movement in our lineups. We let that take a toll on us a bit when we should’ve just pushed through it … killed the morale,” Durant said.

Even Draymond Green hasn’t been the same on the defensive end, battling various injuries throughout the season.

If the Warriors don’t start playing the next-level defense we’ve been accustomed to seeing from this group, this season will end with tissue and heartache, not champagne and parties.

Another thing: Can the Warriors stay relatively healthy over the next two months of the season? Will Curry have the same explosion when he returns to the lineup? Will we see Patrick McCaw again this season?

Those are questions will be answered over the next two months.

All season long, we’ve waited for the playoffs to start, pointing to the Warriors ability to ratchet up their focus and drop the hammer on the opposition. Well, the playoffs are here, and even the most arrogant fan has to be a bit worried about where the Warriors are.

Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.

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