Warriors’ title run will be more difficult than in the past

There will be a lot made about whether the Warriors can fight off the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed. And rightfully so. What looked like a sure thing a couple of weeks ago is now in doubt. The Kevin Durant injury, poor shooting and a tough schedule have conspired to make the Warriors losers of 5 of their past 7.

With the Spurs’ victory over Atlanta on Monday, San Antonio tied the Warriors for best record in the NBA at 52-14. But the Spurs already hold the tie-breaker because they won the season series over Golden State.

Regardless of whether the Warriors end up with the top seed or No. 2 seed, one thing seems certain: This year’s run to an NBA title is going to be more difficult than any of the previous two.

LINK: HOW MANY OF THESE PLAYERS CAN YOU NAME?

Even if they get the top seed, things are setting up to be more challenging, certainly because Durant figures to be coming back from injury, and also because you could make the case that the quality of potential opponent is superior this year.

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Blast from the past: How many of these players can you name?

My mom and sister were cleaning out the old rec room a few weeks back and found this basketball collage I did back when I was a kid. I figured this would be a fun way to test your basketball knowledge a little bit.

LINK: SPURS BLOW OUT WARRIORS; WAS STEVE KERR RIGHT FOR RESTING PLAYERS?

How many players/coaches can you name from these 16 photos — Left to right, top to bottom. There are actually one or two I’m not sure of so any help would be greatly appreciated. Answers underneath. And technically, it would 15 players and one jackass.

IMG_0247

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Spurs better at their own game than Warriors, blow out Golden State 107-85; did Steve Kerr do right thing by resting players — at this time, for that game? Will the move pay off?

The Spurs are much better at playing this game than the Warriors. And it showed on Saturday night. San Antonio beat the Warriors 107-85 at AT&T Center — a game in which both teams were without multiple star players.

The Spurs were playing without Kawhi Leonard , LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker. The Warriors were playing without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Oh, and Kevin Durant, who has been out for two weeks with injury.

LINK TO “WARRIORS WRAPUP,” FROM WARRIORS’ LOSS TO SPURS ON SATURDAY.

Playing their eighth game in their eighth different city over the past 13 days, Warriors coach Steve Kerr chose to rest four players. The thinking is understandable, but the timing doesn’t work out so well.

On “Warriors WrapUp,” the postgame show on 95.7-FM, Chris Townsend and I got into it over the Warriors’ decision. He said that it was a “travesty” and that the Warriors “threw the game” against the Spurs. I said that was ridiculous.

LINK: BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOW MANY OF THESE PLAYERS CAN YOU NAME?

Some talking points from the show:

–Stop blaming the players for this sitting out or saying “players are soft.” For the most part it’s not players begging out of these games. It’s the coaches and front offices employing the tactic of sitting out.

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T-Wolves beat Warriors 103-102; Golden State has lost 4 of 6; Curry’s 3-point slump continues; Wiggins’ free throws win game for Minnesota; Kerr resting players in San Antonio

Well, it’s not really much of a slump, but then again this is the Warriors we’re talking about.

The Warriors lost another game on Friday night, this one to the Timberwolves 103-102 in Minneapolis. It was the Warriors’ second consecutive loss and fourth loss in the past six games. The Warriors had gone 146 games — and almost two calendar years — without losing back to back regular-season games. They’ve now lost two in a row twice in the past 10 days.

There’s a chance the slump could continue considering the Warriors play the Spurs Saturday night in San Antonio. And, coach Steve Kerr announced after the game that he would not play Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala for that one.

LINK TO “WARRIORS WRAPUP,” THE POSTGAME SHOW ON 95.7-FM.

With the loss, the Warriors’ lead over San Antonio for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs is 1 1/2 games.

Curry had a chance to win the game late, but his 20-footer with two seconds remaining rimmed out. Curry, who finished with 27 points, once again struggled from the field, finishing 10-for-27, including 1-for-8 from 3-point range. Over the past seven games, Curry is 18-for-76 from beyond the arc (23.6 percent).

The Warriors used a 13-0 second-half run to trim what had been a 90-76 deficit to just one. From there on, things remaining close and the Warriors even took the lead with 1:02 left on a Curry floater. But Wigging drew a foul with 12.8 seconds remaining and he sunk two free throws.

Kerr wasn’t pleased with the call on the play — against Zaza Pachulia — and said matter of factly after the game that the referees missed the call, that there was no foul.

The Warriors played another half where they looked more ordinary than extraordinary. And if you’ve watched the Warriors the past two-plus years you know they’ve been anything but ordinary.

But the Warriors got down by as many as 17 points in the first half before heading into the locker room down 62-53 at intermission. And it was another forgettable half for Curry, who missed all four of his 3-point attempts and committed four turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves’ superstar, Karl-Anthony Towns, was doing major damage against the Warriors, and making them look small on the interior. Towns knocked  down 8 of 10 shots in the first half, including a couple of 3-pointers.

 

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Celtics take advantage of unusual Warriors’ lineup in fourth quarter for 99-86 win; Golden State scores just 12 points in final period; another horrid night from beyond the arc

For the second straight year, the Boston Celtics came into Oracle Arena and beat the Warriors. On Wednesday night, the Celtics were terrific for much of the fourth quarter and took advantage of a strange Golden State lineup to earn a 99-86 win.

The Celtics handed the Warriors their first loss at Oracle last season on April 1. The Warriors started the 2015-2016 season by winning their first 36 games in Oakland.

LINK TO “WARRIORS WRAPUP,” THE POSTGAME SHOW ON 95.7-FM.

The Warriors led 79-78 with seven-plus minutes left but that’s when everything fell apart and fell apart in a big way. The Celtics outscored the Warriors 15-0 to take a 93-79 lead and that was pretty much that. The Warriors committed eight of their 18 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

On the floor for a good chunk of that run was: Stephen Curry, Ian Clark, Patrick McCaw, Andre Iguodala and James Michael McAdoo. That’s not the kind of lineup you’d expect in an important game (the Spurs are creeping) in the final six minutes. But coach Steve Kerr said it was about getting his players rest, particularly amid this tough stretch of eight games in eight different cities.

LINK TO “SAL AND STEINY PODCAST,” NO. 91: Warriors’ struggles without Durant, advice for young people starting out in media, March Madness coming.

The Warriors went just 6-for-30 from 3-point range, and Curry once again struggled, going just 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. Over the past six games, Curry is 17-for-68 from beyond the arc — just 25 percent. For the season, Curry’s 3-point percentage has dropped to .397, which would be his worst shooting season, by far, in his career from beyond the arc.

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Iguodala emerges, leads Warriors to 119-111 over Hawks; bench plays key role in victory; Curry’s 3s starting to come back as Golden State goes 20-for-44 from beyond the arc

Warriors fans know that Andre Iguodala comes in fits and spurts. When he’s good, he’s been really good. And when he’s been bad, well, he still has been relatively OK — because he’s able to help a team in multiple ways.

The issue, though, with Iguodala is that he sometimes doesn’t impact games consistently enough. He tends to float a little bit. And there have also been times when he’s been downright reluctant to shoot the ball. But without Kevin Durant, Iguodala may have to try to interject himself a little more when it comes to scoring.

That’s what he did in the Warriors’ 119-111 win over the Hawks in Atlanta on Monday. Iguodala scored a season-high 24 points, to go along with five rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes, just one night after logging 30 minutes against the Knicks.

LINK TO ‘WARRIORS WRAPUP,’ THE POSTGAME SHOW FROM WARRIORS AT HAWKS.

The Warriors (52-11) also got contributions from backups Ian Clark and David West, both of whom chipped in with 10 points each.

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Warriors may be at critical point of season — and not know it

Sometimes it’s easy to look back on a season and pinpoint or figure out exactly when something went wrong … or what went right. The problem is, when you’re actually going through that period, in real time, during the season, you may not actually realize it.

Last year, the Warriors lost to the Cavaliers in seven games, and their enduring an autopsy that goes on to this day. You can look back and find some causes for the defeat, or so it goes.Clearly Draymond Green’s one-game suspension altered the series, but that’s not what we’re getting at.

We all knew when that happened, trouble was brewing for the Warriors. Not just because they’d be without Green for a critical Game 5, but because we knew something else was happening: The players who remained were getting worn out

When the Warriors won 24 games last year to start the season, it got the year off to a resounding start. They kept up a record-setting pace as the season went on at some point the idea of winning 73 games — or one more game than the 1996-97 Bulls (72-10) — came into the equation. Whether they talked about it or not or whether it entered their minds only once in a while, that notion likely affected the way they played.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Curry, Thompson make enough shots to put away Knicks 112-105; Warriors continue adjusting without Durant; Barnes gets the start; Atlanta next to end road trip

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson entered Sunday’s game mired in shooting slumps. It’s not that they’re officially of those slumps now, but both made enough shots against the Knicks to lift the Warriors to a 112-105 victory Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Curry had 31 points and Thompson 29, and between them the two went 9-for-22 from beyond the arc. We’ve seen those two combine to shoot much better than that over the years, but against the Knicks that was a marked improvement over what each had been doing. And it was good enough against the Knicks, a non-playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Enough said.

Link to “Warriors WrapUp,” the postgame show on 95.7-FM: Warriors at New York.

Curry had gone 4-for-31 from 3-point range (12.9 percent) over the past three games and Thompson had gone 7-for-33 from beyond the arc (21.2 percent). On Sunday, Curry made 5-for-13 from 3-point range and Thompson 4-for-9 from deep.

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Warriors’ season may come down to when Kevin Durant returns; Stephen Curry once again becomes No. 1 offensive option; late-game execution remains a concern

It’s all about the loss of Kevin Durant right now if you’re a Warriors fan — and the questions that come out of it.

How long exactly will Durant be out? Can the Warriors hold off the Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference and home-court advantage throughout the postseason? How much will Stephen Curry have to change his game from now until Durant returns? How many minutes can newly acquired Matt Barnes gobble up? Will Durant be the same player after he comes back?

The bottom line is that the Warriors’ season has changed in a big way, and it’s because Durant suffered at Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise in his left knee against the Wizards on Monday.

The Warriors have gone from the prohibitive favorite to … well, let’s wait and see.

On the “NBA This Week” we talked all aspects of the Warriors, and other NBA topics with Celtics analyst and former NBA assistant coach Brian Scalabrine and the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps.

Link to Hour 1 of the “NBA This Week,” with Scalabrine interview.

Link to Hour 2 of the “NBA This Week,” with Bontemps interview.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Without Kevin Durant, Warriors beaten by Bulls 94-87; offense in shambles, particularly in crunch time; Curry, Thompson mired in big-time shooting slumps

Safe to say the Warriors are a little different without Kevin Durant. Playing their first game  minus Durant, who injured his left knee on Tuesday, the Warriors’ offense went missing, and they ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls 94-87 on Thursday.

The 87 points were a season-low for the Warriors, and it was just the third time this year they have failed to score 100 points. Plenty didn’t go right for the Warriors, and we talked about all of them afterward.

Link to “Warriors WrapUp,” the postgame show on 95.7-FM The Game.

The Warriors (50-11) have now lost consecutive games for the first time in 146 games, dating back to April 2015. For the third straight game, the Warriors couldn’t get anything going from 3-point range. They went 6-for-30 from beyond the arc (20 percent) and are now 20-for-87 (22.9 percent) from out there on their five-game road trip.

Stephen Curry went 2-for-11 from 3-point range and Klay Thompson went 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. Curry is 4-for-31 from 3-point range on this trip (12.9 percent) and Klay Thompson is 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) from there.

Why is Curry’s shooting percentage drastically down from last season? Why aren’t the Warriors shooting as well as a team from beyond the arc? More questions than usual right now.

The Warriors led 85-84 with three minutes left, but their offense went bone dry and then, topping it off, they couldn’t get a stop. After Jimmy Butler put the Bulls up one with a pair of foul shots, the Warriors would come completely unglued on offense in crunch time, which has been a periodic theme this season.

The Warriors went 1-for-8 from the field from that point on, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Perhaps the worst 3-pointer of that stretch was provided by Curry, after Dwyane Wade’s bucket made it 88-85. Without making a pass, Curry came down and launched from distance early in the clock. The shot missed, Chicago got the rebound and proceeded to milk 20 seconds off the clock.

If there was one adjective to describe much of the first half — Golden State’s first one since finding out Durant would be out at least four weeks because of a left knee injury — it would be: uneventful.

Without Durant, the Warriors lacked offensive firepower and their ability to seemingly score by accident. They didn’t get out in transition like they normally do and they didn’t have anyone who was overly aggressive at the offensive end.

There was some thought that recently acquired Matt Barnes might be in the starting lineup for Durant. But once again, coach Steve Kerr went to rookie Patrick McCaw, who has  been getting starts when the injury bug strikes. It was McCaw’s fifth start, and it allowed the Warriors’ bench to stay intact.

Of primary concern to Kerr right now is to make sure his veterans — Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West — are healthy come playoff time. To that end, Kerr doesn’t want to overtax his veterans with Durant’s lost minutes.

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