The Warriors’ 128-119 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies was a shocker, no doubt. Golden State led by 24 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter up 19. But from there it was all bad, with the offense bogging down in a confounding way and the defense going awfully soft.
It all added up to head-scratching collapse, and one that is likely to stick with the team and fans for longer than most regular, old losses. Of course, the Warriors don’t lose much. They’re still 31-6 heading into Sunday’s game at Sacramento, and that’s the best in the NBA. But when you’re the Warriors and expectations are what they are (championship or bust) then losses bring out more dissection. If you want to listen to the postgame show, link provided below.
–Compared with most NBA teams, the Warriors don’t have a lot of weaknesses, but whatever ones they do have were exposed against the Grizzlies. The glaring issue, it seemed, was the Warriors’ lack of physicality. We all know Memphis is a rough and tumble team — both on the interior and perimeter — but they just seemed to manhandle the Warriors last night.
Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen … those guys are tough.
For all his strengths as an offensive player, and his ability to block shots at the defensive end, Kevin Durant struggles against good post-up players. And Randolph is a very good post up player — still. Durant might be a way better all-around player than Harrison Barnes, but when it comes to defending power forwards playing with their backs to the basket, Barnes does it better than Durant. And it showed last night.
But it’s not fair to just single out Durant. When most fans think of physicality and toughness they think of big men. But don’t forget about the perimeter … Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Durant, Shaun Livingston. Those players aren’t best-suited when it comes to bumping and grinding.
–Draymond Green really put on quite a show in the game’s final minute. During two late possessions — a Curry missed 3-pointer and a Durant missed 3-pointer — Green was demonstrably angry with what was going on. Green would later say he wanted the Warriors’ to go in a different offensive direction, but we’re not sure that warranted his actions.
Green spent a fair amount of time during those possessions shaking his head and making it clear he was unhappy. Gesticulating is a good word. When it was time for him to head to the corner, behind the 3-point line, he did so but then rested his hands on his shorts in a bent-over position. When Durant took a tough, contested 3-pointer, Green remained clutching his shorts and made no attempt to get the rebound.
Then after Memphis called timeout, Green walked the length of the court, visibly angry, before saying something quite animatedly to Durant. Heat of the moment is heat of the moment, that’s for sure, but there’s no excuse for Green not going for that rebound. A harsher critic of Green might say he quit on that play.
–There’s little doubt Curry was being more aggressive on Friday night. Curry went 15-for-27 from the field, which was a season-high in shots attempted, and finished with 40 points. The one price, however (if, in fact, there is a price) was the imbalance in shots among Curry, Durant and Thompson. Durant and Thompson took 17 shots apiece. If you look at the Warriors’ stats it’s incredible how even those three players are when it comes to field goal attempts per game. Coming into Friday’s game, Thompson had averaged 17.3, Durant 17.0 and Curry 16.7.
While it’s admirable those three are all getting their shots and are willing to share the ball, there also seems to be some uncertainty about how to score best when the game is on the line and who to go to.