The NBA — the one that was ruined by the dominance of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, as we’ve been told over recent years — has been flipped upside down in recent weeks.
The Dubs have lost three of their last four games, including two of the most embarrassing losses in the Steve Kerr Era — the latest a 20-point a defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The team finds itself in uncharted water. Not because the Warriors are struggling to win — that’s happened before — but because they don’t have an excuse this go-around.
Last year, when Golden State lost three-straight for the first time since Kerr took over, it was because Kevin Durant was hurt and the offense hadn’t recovered. Now, the whole roster, save for rookie Jordan Bell, is healthy.
Yet, the Warriors are failing to execute on the most basic principles of the offense that revolutionized the game. The ball isn’t moving, and when it is, it’s going to the other team. And when turnovers stack up, playing stout defense is all but impossible because the miscues allow the opponent to get out in the open floor and score in transition.
During this four-game stretch, the Warriors are averaging 20.5 turnovers per game. They’ve tied their season-high twice.
“Just carelessness,” Kerr said Tuesday when asked why the problem has persisted. “… We are trying too hard to make the great play and hit the home run instead of just taking the single.”
It isn’t a physical issue. The problem resides in the collective psyche of the players and coaches of this team.
They’ve been talking about the fatigue that comes with consecutive trips to the Finals all season long. It’s an excuse that isn’t as valid as a major injury or problems with the schedule. But it’s where the team is at.
And what’s resulted is lots of talk for how they’re going to fix the problem. But the product of talk and little action is cliche. On Wednesday, Kerr talked about how his team needs to “dig deep,” “show some fight,” and “claw our way out” of the rut they’re in.
“Competitive desire is the best medicine when you’re in a situation like this and you’re taking some lumps,” Kerr said.
My point isn’t that the Warriors are hopeless, and that there’s reason for fans to be concerned. There really isn’t unless this kind of play maintains until springtime. But this lull should serve as a reminder of how remarkable last year’s group was. And that fans should be on the lookout for the turning point that is coming.
Kerr said it was a double-digit comeback at home that snapped things back into place last season. It will be interesting to see what starts the momentum this season.
It’ll start with taking care of the ball and showing some interest in playing defense, but it’s clear this team is looking for a wake-up call.
The freshness of the Warriors’ greatness is gone. What’s left is the hard work that comes with maintaining a dynasty. It isn’t as glamorous as winning 73 games in the regular season or steamrolling through the Western Conference playoffs. But being able to persevere through low-points like these is what will set this group above all the other all-time great groups.
And isn’t that what the Warriors are shooting for in the first place?
Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.