The Warriors’ Championship Glow Is Gone. And But …

Earlier than touring to Milwaukee for his or her recreation in opposition to the Bucks on Friday afternoon, the Golden State Warriors spent 4 nights in New York.

Ordinarily, staying within the metropolis can be a pleasant perk for an N.B.A. crew 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 aside from to move to observe and get walloped by the Nets on Tuesday of their season opener at Barclays Heart.

Coach Steve Kerr tried to set instance for his gamers. On Wednesday evening, he known as his son Nick, one of many crew’s lead video coordinators, who was holed up in a close-by room on the crew resort: Did he need to get collectively to order some room service and watch a recreation on tv?

“And he mentioned, ‘It’s in all probability not a good suggestion,’” Kerr recalled Nick telling him. “And I mentioned: ‘Oh, yeah. You’re proper.’ Although we’re getting examined and we’re collectively each day, the extra we may be on our personal, the higher. It’s not a enjoyable method to stay, nevertheless it’s the sensible factor to do.”

The Warriors’ challenges aren’t distinctive. Each crew is coping with the identical circumstances. However few groups exterior of Houston have had a rougher time up to now.

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 crew that appears certain for a number of extra months of rising pains.

“We have to win,” the Warriors’ Stephen Curry mentioned after their 138-99 loss to the Bucks. “Instantly.”

It received 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, received minutes for the Bucks in rubbish time as their lead mushroomed.

Kerr mentioned he was most annoyed that the Warriors had been coming off two days of stable observe earlier than they took the court docket and “didn’t execute a lot of something.”

“We’re simply scattered proper now,” Kerr mentioned. “Simply seems like we’re a collection of shifting components.”

It has been a nightmare begin for 2 gamers who will go a great distance towards dictating whether or not the Warriors are a playoff crew. Kelly Oubre Jr., whom they acquired in a commerce after Klay Thompson was misplaced to harm 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 sector to start out his first full season with the Warriors.

“It’ll shake out over time,” Kerr mentioned. “Kelly might be fantastic. Andrew might be fantastic. 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 aren’t the identical with out Thompson, which is clear however must be emphasised.

Draymond Inexperienced, the opposite core member of the Warriors’ championship years, has but to make his first look due to a foot harm. On Friday, Inexperienced was in road garments and a masks, leaping off the bench to share his knowledge with James Wiseman, the crew’s first-year heart, about defensive positioning. Wiseman has been one of many crew’s vibrant spots, averaging 18.5 factors and seven rebounds whereas capturing 50 p.c from the sector. He went 3 of 4 from 3-point vary in opposition to the Bucks.

“The sport is beginning to decelerate for me,” Wiseman mentioned, which is saying so much contemplating he’s two video games into his profession.

Kerr recommended 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 lifelike measure of the Warriors’ place within the N.B.A. ecosystem this season.

Even so, the primary two video games have provided a grim reminder that these aren’t 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 aren’t the Warriors who gained 24 straight video games to start out the 2015-16 season, or completed that season with a 73-9 report — the most effective 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 crew. Accidents and roster turnover have taken an unlimited toll. Final season, they hobbled to the worst report 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 crew to its title runs — was requested how he would deal with his youthful teammates.

“This 12 months is totally different,” he mentioned, “and to not really feel any stress 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 would like. However this 12 months is totally different. It’s a brand new group of men. We might like to have performed higher over these final two video games, however that’s not going to outline our season.”

There may be some trigger for optimism. The schedule will loosen up. Inexperienced might be in uniform. And Oubre will presumably make a 3-pointer in some unspecified time in the future within the close to future. There may be additionally the lengthy view: Thompson is rehabbing (once more) in hopes of enjoying subsequent season.

However proper now, his return feels about as far-off because the crew’s championships do.

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