It was a good, old-fashioned whooping at Oracle Arena Thursday. In a statement game, an MVP candidate showed out and snatched the souls of anyone in his path.
But in an M. Night Shyamalan twist, it was Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (9-2) who opened up a can on the Warriors (10-2) , 134-111.
Antetokounmpo waltzed all over the Golden State defense and was far and away the best player on the court. As WWE announcer Jim Ross would say, he stomped a mudhole in them and walked it dry. He had an effortless 24 points, but it felt like 50.
Steve Kerr wasn’t happy with the teams focus, or lack thereof:
“When you come out with sort of a mindless intent and you’re fouling, I think we had four fouls in the first two minutes. And not executing against a really good team, a team that’s hungry and on the rise, you’re not going to fare very well. Sometimes you got to get hit in the mouth in this league to remind you how hard it is to win a game.”
Antetokounmpo attempted more free throws in the first half — 10 — than the Bucks had as a team for the whole game Tuesday in Portland.
Fouling has been the Warriors Achilles heel this season. They have committed the eighth-most fouls in the league thus far.
Kevin Durant said to start out with so many fouls was the difference in the game:
“We in the bonus with 10 minutes to go in the first, I mean they shot a lot of free throws, and then they get a set defense.”
The fouls were a pain, but what really hurt was that the whistles started getting in the Warriors’ heads and they stopped contesting and defending as hard.
And when you ease up the coverage on the “Greek Freak,” he’s going to walk all over you. He abused Kevon Looney off the dribble all night and put him in the basket more than a handful of times.
The Warriors held the Bucks to just 25 percent from 3, but put them on the line 27 times and gave up an incredible 84 points in the paint. That’s the most they’ve given up since Steve Kerr has taken over. There was no opposition anytime the Bucks would drive to the hoop and they feasted there all game.
Without Draymond Green, who missed this game with a foot injury, the only Warrior who had any type of success guarding the Antetokounmpo was Durant — but Steve Kerr seemed reluctant to embrace that matchup, with Durant guarding him just a handful of times.
Instead, he left Looney and Jordan Bell on an island to get abused by the overpowering ability of Antetokounmpo.
After the game, Kerr said it was to avoid Durant getting into foul trouble:
“The one thing I didn’t want to do was get KD in foul trouble and I thought it made sense to give JB a chance at Giannis. Unfortunately he picked up two quick ones. … It wasn’t just him, the whole team was reaching and I thought it set a tone. They had 19 free throws in the first half.”
While it’s true that the way the whistles were flying early Durant may have gotten in early foul trouble, it did the Warriors no good to let Antetokounmpo have his way early on. By halftime they were already down 13 and he was rolling with 19 points and as they found out, when he’s rolling with a head of steam, there’s no stopping him.
Durant also didn’t do much offensively as the length of the Bucks gave him fits, shutting down his driving lanes and altering shots that few other teams can.
He had 17 points on just 6-of-15 shooting and even was blocked in the paint three times, although he did have nine assists.
Durant said the Bucks defense really keyed in on the three all-stars:
“I thought they did a great job of really guarding me, Steph and Klay with two guys and also a guy shifting over on the drive. They forced us to pass the ball to [Bell] and Damian and whoever the other two guys were in the game and forced them to make plays and it kind of threw us off on offense a bit.”
While the Warriors entire team struggled, the Bucks flourished.
His ball pressure forced Curry into a 5-of-14 shooting performance while making him look like a statue on the defensive end. Curry eventually left in the third quarter and wouldn’t return with what is being listed as a left abductor strain.
While Bledsoe would go for a game-high 26 points on an absurd 10-of-12 shooting with all but three of his shots coming from within the paint. Four of the Bucks starters: Bledsoe, Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon scored 87 points combined
While it is still early and in the grand scheme of the season this loss means little to nothing, the way that it happened is notable.
It’s been a long time since the Warriors were absolutely bludgeoned at home like this. Now we’ll see how they respond.
Will it be with indifference like last year? Or will they return to that bloodlust they had before that? It’s scary to think, but the Warriors may have just been woken up.
The Warriors will finish up their five-game home stand Saturday when the Brooklyn Nets come to town. These two teams played just 10 days ago in New York when Golden State eked out a six-point win.
The Warriors (plus-13.7) and Bucks (plus-12.7) came into this game first and second in the league in point differential. They also are the two highest scoring teams in the NBA so far averaging 123.5 and 123.0 points per game respectively. … Stephen Curry will get an MRI Friday, team officials said, adding that Draymond Green could return as soon as Monday. But that means the Warriors will most likely be without both of them for Saturday’s game.