Earlier than touring to Milwaukee for his or her sport towards the Bucks on Friday afternoon, the Golden State Warriors spent 4 nights in New York.
Ordinarily, staying within the metropolis could be a pleasant perk for an N.B.A. workforce on the street. However these are unusual, difficult occasions, and the Warriors, in adhering to the league’s coronavirus protocols, didn’t enterprise past their resort apart from to move to follow and get walloped by the Nets on Tuesday of their season opener at Barclays Heart.
Coach Steve Kerr tried to set an excellent instance for his gamers. On Wednesday evening, he referred to as his son Nick, one of many workforce’s lead video coordinators, who was holed up in a close-by room on the workforce resort: Did he wish to get collectively to order some room service and watch a sport on tv?
“And he stated, ‘It’s in all probability not a good suggestion,’” Kerr recalled Nick telling him. “And I stated: ‘Oh, yeah. You’re proper.’ Regardless that we’re getting examined and we’re collectively every single day, the extra we might be on our personal, the higher. It’s not a enjoyable approach to reside, nevertheless it’s the sensible factor to do.”
The Warriors’ challenges are usually not distinctive. Each workforce is coping with the identical circumstances. However few groups outdoors of Houston have had a rougher time thus far.
Golden State’s illustrious, not-so-distant previous is fading a bit by the day. It’s far too early to make any generalizations or draw any dire conclusions. However: Yikes! Two video games, two blowout losses for a workforce that appears certain for a number of extra months of rising pains.
“We have to win,” the Warriors’ Stephen Curry stated after their 138-99 loss to the Bucks. “Instantly.”
It obtained so dangerous for the Warriors on Friday that Antetokounmpo was dunking on them within the fourth quarter — however not Giannis. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the two-time most dear participant’s older brother, obtained minutes for the Bucks in rubbish time as their lead mushroomed.
Kerr stated he was most annoyed that the Warriors have been coming off two days of stable follow earlier than they took the courtroom and “didn’t execute a lot of something.”
“We’re simply scattered proper now,” Kerr stated. “Simply looks like we’re a sequence of transferring elements.”
It has been a nightmare begin for 2 gamers who will go a good distance towards dictating whether or not the Warriors are a playoff workforce. Kelly Oubre Jr., whom they acquired in a commerce after Klay Thompson was misplaced to damage for the second straight season, has missed all 11 of his 3-point makes an attempt. And Andrew Wiggins has shot 10 of 34 from the sphere to start out his first full season with the Warriors.
“It’ll shake out over time,” Kerr stated. “Kelly shall be high-quality. Andrew shall be high-quality. Each guys are confirmed gamers on this league.”
The N.B.A. schedule makers didn’t do the Warriors any favors: two championship contenders on the street to christen the season, again to again. Earlier than Thompson was misplaced for the season, each video games figured to be marquee matchups. However the Warriors are usually not the identical with out Thompson, which is clear however should be emphasised.
Draymond Inexperienced, the opposite core member of the Warriors’ championship years, has but to make his first look due to a foot damage. On Friday, Inexperienced was in avenue garments and a masks, leaping off the bench to share his knowledge with James Wiseman, the workforce’s first-year middle, about defensive positioning. Wiseman has been one of many workforce’s shiny spots, averaging 18.5 factors and seven rebounds whereas capturing 50 p.c from the sphere. He went 3 of 4 from 3-point vary towards the Bucks.
“The sport is beginning to decelerate for me,” Wiseman stated, which is saying rather a lot contemplating he’s two video games into his profession.
Kerr steered that Inexperienced could possibly be within the beginning lineup when the Warriors go to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. And the Bulls are neither the Nets nor the Bucks, so maybe a visit to Chicago will present a extra sensible measure of the Warriors’ place within the N.B.A. ecosystem this season.
Even so, the primary two video games have supplied a grim reminder that these are usually not the Warriors who made 5 straight journeys to the N.B.A. finals between 2014-15 and 2018-19, coming away with three championships. These are usually not the Warriors who gained 24 straight video games to start out the 2015-16 season, or completed that season with a 73-9 document — one of the best in N.B.A. historical past.
No, these Warriors have gained 15 video games within the 561 days since they final appeared within the finals. Solely 5 gamers stay from that workforce. Accidents and roster turnover have taken an unlimited toll. Final season, they hobbled to the worst document within the league with out Thompson and Curry (who missed all however 5 video games with a damaged hand).
On Friday, Curry — one of many few threads that ties this workforce to its title runs — was requested how he would tackle his youthful teammates.
“This 12 months is totally different,” he stated, “and to not really feel any strain concerning the Warriors groups of the previous. We clearly have that championship DNA and we perceive there’s expectations round our group, and that’s what we wish. However this 12 months is totally different. It’s a brand new group of men. We’d like to have performed higher over these final two video games, however that’s not going to outline our season.”
There’s some trigger for optimism. The schedule will loosen up. Inexperienced shall be in uniform. And Oubre will presumably make a 3-pointer sooner or later within the close to future. There’s additionally the lengthy view: Thompson is rehabbing (once more) in hopes of enjoying subsequent season.
However proper now, his return feels about as distant because the workforce’s championships do.