ORLANDO, Fla. When Stephen Curry went down with a left foot sprain last Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors knew they had a difficult final stretch to the regular season.
They expected some bumps in the road – their entire system is built around Curry. Coach Steve Kerr got it’s like a “Domino effect” when he’s out of the lineup.
But, they’ve now dropped three games in a row – now recently a 94-90 loss to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night – and are 2-6 without Curry this season. The concern level is growing.
“I think we’re playing soft,” Draymond Green said after the loss to the Magic. “We’re playing stupid. We’re just not playing good basketball and we’re getting punked. It’s hard to win a game of getting punked. So that’s where we are right now.”
The Warriors scored just 16 points in the final quarter against the Magic. But it wasn’t just that period that cost them the game.
Green, along with Kerr, rattled off a laundry list of things Golden State didn’t do well – fouling 3-point shooters, setting illegal screens, being late on switches. The common denominator, they said, is that the Warriors’ execution has been poor.
“We have to be smarter,” Kerr said. “There has been a level of discipline and accountability, of competitive desire. And, I know these are great guys. I love these guys. I know they want to win. But we have to learn how to win. Right now we don ‘I don’t know how to win.’
Added Green: “In order to execute, that requires a certain level of physicality. We’re not meeting that.”
With just 10 games left in the regular season, time is running out for the Warriors to learn how to win. And the current issues they’re dealing with won’t be fixed by simply adding Curry back into the lineup, just as the issues the Warriors had without Green or Klay Thompson weren’t immediately fixed when they returned from their respective injuries.
“This has zero to do with Steph,” Green said. “Steph doesn’t bring that level of physicality to the game, nor should he. That’s not his job.”
Golden State doesn’t like to use the fact that it hasn’t had a fully healthy roster this season as an excuse. It’s something every team in the league goes through, the Warriors repeatedly say. It doesn’t make them special. And it’s true.
But, just as the Phoenix Suns have gone 10-4 without Chris Paul, and the Memphis Grizzlies went 10-2 without Ja Morant in early December, the Warriors must figure out how to Survive without their star.
Their first two full games without Curry – against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and the Magic on Tuesday – were two opportunities to do so. Instead, they dropped them both. Now they head into the final four games of a road trip that has them playing five games in seven days, including one at Memphis.
“No disrespect to the Orlando Magic, but that’s one of the worst teams in the league. We can’t match that with them,” Green said. “And if you can’t match that with them, you definitely can’t match that going against a great team.”
“I don’t care who is out there. You can go to the park and be outmatched but you don’t get punked … that’s what we’re doing.”