The saying around the NBA is that the first home game back from a long road trip is still a road game.
Well, the fans at Oracle Arena Tuesday night probably wish that were actually true, that way they wouldn’t have had to see Tuesday’s game in person.
The Warriors (44-20) trailed every second of a humiliating 128-95 loss to the Boston Celtics (39-26). The 33-point differential amounts to Golden State’s worst defeat of the season.
DeMarcus Cousins said that there were no excuses for his team’s performance:
“No sense of urgency, another sluggish start, bad energy. That was on us tonight. You can’t even really get to the X’s and O’s or make excuses about missing shots or whatever the case may be. It started off with our energy from the beginning.”
Golden State missed Klay Thompson, who was forced to sit out his second straight game with right knee soreness.
And his presence wasn’t just felt in the 3-pointers made column either. Without him, the Warriors had no one to guard any of the Celtics parade of wings — especially Kyrie Irving. Irving got loose for 19 points, but it was the ease in which he got them that was the real problem.
Whether it was a high pick-and-roll or a straight isolation, Golden State literally had no one that could stay in front of the All-Star guard without Thompson. Instead, Irving drew help and easily found the open man to the tune of 11 assists.
Most of them going to Gordon Hayward, who went off for 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting, almost all of them coming on wide open looks.
Steve Kerr said it was evident that the team wasn’t focused from the jump:
“Well right from the beginning, just the level of competition wasn’t where it needed to be. It was 11 to nothing in about four minutes. It looked to me like we were jogging up the floor and you can’t play basketball jogging. You got to sprint, your cuts have to be hard, you have to be going all out. And we did not go all out, and it was embarrassing.”
When it wasn’t a catch-and-shoot 3, the Celtics they were ruthlessly targeting Cousins on switches and hunted that matchup on almost every possession.
Cousins just is not equipped, even pre-injury, to play the switch-everything defense that the Warriors are accustomed to playing.
He said he wants to try whatever schemes the coaches ask of him, but it’s definitely an adjustment:
“I want to adjust to our schemes. And like I said we are trying to figure that out right now and what’s best. It’s a different look with the personnel every game. To say I’m struggling is a bit foolish.”
After the Philadelphia game, Cousins said that he wanted to play the switching style, but it was clearly evident he can’t.
Not many centers can, and Kerr will have to adjust and probably go back to the same drop pick-and-roll defense, where the center drops into the lane to cut off the drives instead of switching on the perimeter, that the team employed with Andrew Bogut as the starting center.
Funny enough, Bogut’s return is right on the horizon, so he can show Cousins the ideal techniques.
Kerr admitted after the game that he has to do a better job schematically:
“I have got to do a better job as a coach of putting people in the right places and making sure we are in the position to succeed. But again it starts with effort, it starts with engagement and there has to be a level of intensity to do anything. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, what the scheme is, you got to be able to get out there and compete and that’s where it starts.”
While the Golden State defense struggled, the offense was just as bad.
Stephen Curry was the only player in a Warrior uniform who was able to do anything on that end. He finished with 23 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Curry said the stale offense was what started the rout:
“Tonight was mostly bad execution on the offensive end. We didn’t really put any pressure on them the first three or four minutes. And then you compound that with not getting any stops… And then you look up and it’s 11 to nothing. We claw our way back to 13-12 and then it’s just hard to sustain those comebacks against teams that are playing well.”
Thompson’s absence also underscored just how shallow this Warriors team is, especially on offense.
Kevin Durant had 18, but also shot a dismal 5-of-16 from the field and finished with the same amount of field goals as he did turnovers. And without a secondary scoring option and Cousins not there yet, that’s a recipe for shooting 39 percent from the field.
It showed most in those usual lineups that start the second and fourth quarter. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green, Thompsons and Cousins already have problems scoring, and that’s before you replace Thompson with Quinn Cook, Alfonzo McKinnie or Damion Lee.
Livingston also missed the game Tuesday due to neck spasms so then two of those players were forced into that lineup. Because of that Kerr was required to search for any type of spark or answer even dusting off Jonas Jerebko and Jacob Evans.
But none of them provided much more than a handful of field goals in this humbling loss.
The Warriors get two full days off to recover from this pedestrian showing and return to the court Friday to take on the Denver Nuggets. Much like the Warriors, the Nuggets are in the midst of their own struggles, losers of three straight.
The 33-point loss was the largest loss of the season for the Warriors. And it was the largest deficit they had faced in a game since Christmas day when they went down by 28 to the Lakers. … DeMarcus Cousins went 0-of-5 from deep Tuesday and continues to struggle from the 3-point line as he’s just 6-of-40 from downtown since February 1st. … Jacob Evans appeared in his first game since January 15. The rookie has been hampered by injuries and poor play and has played in a total of just 23 games.