Monday night’s win at Atlanta showcased the Warriors’ scoring depth, with six players in double figures — including 55 from their bench — en route to a come-from-behind win.
Wednesday night showed the complete opposite.
The Golden State bench failed to make the trip back to the Bay Area and finished with just 17 points as the Warriors (52-12) coughed up a lead in the fourth to lose 99-86 to the Boston Celtics (41-24).
Steve Kerr said that he still has complete confidence in that bench unit despite this result:
“They struggled tonight, but the Atlanta game the bench was the story of the game. That’s normally a really good unit for us so I’ll go right back to them, it was just one of those nights.”
The Warriors’ usually explosive offense stalled to a slow simmer as they failed to score 30 in any quarter, including putting up a depressing 12 points in the final frame and finishing under 100 points for just the fourth time all season.
The fourth quarter was easily the Warriors’ worst of the season thanks to a cornucopia of turnovers and some very questionable substitution patterns.
Ironically it was Isaiah Thomas who called out his own coach’s lineup experimentations just a few days ago, but it was Kerr who might have to answer for his decisions against the Celtics.
During the fourth, Kerr went with a lineup of Curry, Ian Clark, Patrick McCaw, Andre Iguodala and James McAdoo, a lineup that had never seen the court together before tonight. And for good reason, it seems, as the lineup gave up a 7-0 run in just two minutes, and just like that, the game was done.
Kerr said that it was a simple minutes issue for both Thompson and Green and a planned rest:
“There’s no way we are going to let them just play the whole quarter especially with this stretch that we are on. We had to get them out and get them a few minutes rest. And obviously things didn’t go well for those couple minutes, but I was just trying to get guys some rest.”
That group’s ineffectiveness was compounded by the amount of turnovers committed even after the starters came back in. The Warriors finished with just 17 turnovers for the game — not a crazy number — but eight of those came in the fourth.
Just for reference, Golden State took just 14 shots, which basically averages out to more than a turnover every three possessions.
Stephen Curry said inopportune turnovers and some lose balls really sank the team in the fourth:
“I mean they played some good defense, but we just got stagnant. It was a different lineup out there for a little bit and we just couldn’t manufacture anything really. And that three minute stretch where it went from a four-point game to 10 or 11 was a killer tonight.”
It wasn’t just the turnovers though as the team shot just 6-of-30 from downtown and continued what has been an awfully cold shooting display from three the last six games. Including tonight the Warriors are now 59-of-196, which is just 30.1 percent since February 27.
Curry said that they can’t afford to let their shooting slump turn into a defensive slump too:
“You obviously hope they go in, but can’t be a deciding factor in if that spills over into a bad defensive possession.”
Although the Warriors returned to the friendly confines of Oracle Arena for the first time in 11 days, it was essentially just another game on their road trip and their shooting showed that.
The Warriors capped their 3-2 road trip with this one home game before getting back out on the road the very next day in what is one of the most brutal stretches of the season.
Warriors: 6 days, 5 flights, 4 games
Games: Hawks, Celtics, Wolves, Spurs
Flights: Atlanta to Oakland to Minnesota to San Antonio to Oakland
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 7, 2017
The Warriors were forced to lean heavily on their stars, but unluckily for them, they couldn’t deliver enough.
Klay Thompson finished with 25 points on 23 shots, and Stephen Curry scored 23 himself as the duo dragged to a sluggish finish as they combined for just one point — a Thompson free throw — in the fourth quarter.
It had been all Splash Brothers all game, as the only other Warriors player to attempt more than seven shots was Draymond Green, who went just 6-of-15.
But when they needed it most, the well went dry, and the duo attempted just four shots in the fourth quarter, missing all of them.
After their quick one-game home stand, the Warriors head back out onto the road yet again. They travel to Minnesota to take on the T-Wolves (26-37) Friday before ending the back-to-back two-gamer at the San Antonio Spurs (50-13) Saturday. Unfortunately these recent struggles comes at a time when the San Antonio Spurs are red-hot and continue to nip at the heels of Golden State. They sit just 1.5 games back from the number one seed and get to face the Warriors twice in the next 20 days, both times with Golden State playing the back end of a back-to-back.
Kevin Durant spoke to the media before the game and was upbeat about his knee. Even though he had to use crutches, he said today was the first time he could straighten his leg completely. There still is no timetable for Durant to return. … Matt Barnes returned to Oracle as a member of the Warriors for the first time since April 16, 2008. Barnes signed with the club on March 2 but the team had been on the road the previous three games. …. Thompson hit two 3-pointers Wednesday giving him a total of 201 on the year. With that Thompson and Curry become the only two players in the history of the NBA to hit 200 or more threes in five straight seasons.