OAKLAND — The Warriors can turn the ball over and still win games.
They’ve proven as much by claiming victory in nine games when they’ve coughed the ball up 16 or more times. They can even beat good teams while being sloppy, like they did on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors.
Since Kevin Durant committed to come to the Bay, naysayers have been searching for a reason the Super Dubs will falter. Before the season, the common refrain was, “There’s only one ball.” They’ve since been proven wrong now that Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are all averaging more than 20 points per game as the team leads the league in field-goal percentage.
After the San Antonio Spurs trounced the Warriors on opening night, the next stumbling block was supposed to be rim protection. That’s concern has gone away now that the Dubs are ranked first in blocks per game and second in defensive efficiency.
But the one thing that has dogged this team ever since it adopted Steve Kerr’s free-flowing offensive system — which predates the KD era — is turnovers.
That shouldn’t be surprising. Teams that pass the ball are liable to lose the ball. But the Warriors have a tendency to overshare, which leads to easy buckets for the opponents.
On Christmas Day, it cost them the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers despite a double-digit fourth-quarter lead. On Wednesday, the more the Warriors turned the ball over, the more they allowed the Raptors back into the game, despite racing to a 42-17 lead after the first quarter — made possible by committing just two turnovers.
Then, the Dubs surrendered nine scoring chances in the second, and the Raptors capitalized by scoring 20 points on the extra opportunities. The home team settled down enough in the second half with nine giveaways, leading to a comfortable winning margin, 121-111.
But the fact remains that this team’s weakness has been exposed and proven over time.
That’s not to say it’s something other teams can easily seize upon, because it’s mostly self-inflicted. Better defending teams will be able to seize upon it and keep things tight. But the Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers — two squads the Dubs beat while committing turnovers in the high teens to low 20s — not so much.
“You’ve got to make all your shots, practically, to win when you’re giving the other team so many more attempts,” Kerr said, attributing the mistakes to lapses in focus.
They know it’s a problem. They know there isn’t an easy solution. It’s a natural side effect of having a team that produces passing highlights at a rate not seen since the Showtime Lakers.
If Kerr can find a remedy, he’ll be rightly cheered as a genius. If he doesn’t, it could prove to be another painful summer.