This time two years ago it was convenient to frame the Warriors historic season within the contextual analysis of a revolution. A revolution by definition changes structures and institutions through mass organization of military power. On a much smaller scale, the Warriors were demoralizing their opponents and doing unthinkable things, led by Steph Curry’s wizadry. The theory was the Warriors were changing the NBA and small ball was here to stay. The Warriors systemic structure was both unguardable and mimic proof. They were powerful, if not militaristic. There wasn’t much evidence to disprove any Warriors negative. They won 73 games in brilliant, happy, fun loving, exceptional, dynamic fashion. They trailed 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and came back and won. Their philosophy was legitimized until game 5 and game 6 and game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. No one was ready for the crash. But then they bounced back the following year and wiped the floor with the Cavs, a 5 games series that never felt close.
But did GM Bob Myers know something two years ago? Did he go after Kevin Durant so hard because he knew this magic in a bottle was exactly that, magic, not sustainable and very fragile?
The Warriors are anything but a revolution. They look nothing like the team they have been the last three years and I am not talking about their inability to guard the rim and make shots, or, how they sleepwalk through games in key moments, not to mention the turnovers.
The Warriors body language looks nothing remotely similar to Strength in Numbers. It would be one thing if they were playing very well and coming up short. But there are gaps in games when you look up and think who are these guys? What happened to the Warriors?
Excuses. Explanations. Reasons.
Kevin Durant. He isn’t doing more. In Game 5, he was a ghost. His shot was not falling and he didn’t do anything else. 0 assists. He’s not any better than the ball stopper (Russell Westbrook) he couldn’t wait to get away from. Remember when Durant said all of his raw (misplaced) emotion was because he wanted to win another title so bad? What has happened to that KD? The ruthless unguardable KD? The Finals MVP Durant?
The last two games, back to back Warriors losses, Durant has gone 17-46, 36%. He hasn’t made 10 shots in a game in over a week. He has posted 0 assists twice this postseason, both times against the Rockets. He had 4 rebounds in game 5, a ridiculous amount of ball watching and doing nothing.
Team Chemistry Without Iggy. A moodiness fugue has hung over the Warriors since Andre Iguodala’s leg injury. They are not moving the ball, instead trying to mimic Chris Paul’s blinding dribble, dribble, dribble. They are trying to win games via iso and that’s not what created the Warriors magic. It was their passing and ball movement. Pass up a good shot for a better shot. Egoless basketball. They have not been able to shake off their blues with Iggy in street clothes. Their offense looks pedestrian and particularly sickly. No one with a pulse thought remove Iggy and then the Warrior sky looks a little dark.
Chris Paul has figured them out. As a member of the Clippers, the little engine that could has had disastrous moments against the Warriors but he can smell blood and is on attack. The only reason the Rockets have a chance at the upset is because Chris Paul is doing his best to carry the entire team, including a disappearing James Harden. But it is Chris. So something has to go wrong. A hamstring injury, a familiar Paul ailment, will keep him out of Game 6 and who knows what happens now with James Harden firmly entrenched in his deer in the headlights behavior.
Draymond Green. All roads for Warriors negativity lead to Dray. He is too abusive/combative inside the locker room, everyone says. He is too abusive/combative on the court. He is an easy target for blame and that turnover in Game 5 didn’t help things but he isn’t the problem as much as he is the scapegoat. The Warriors problem against the Rockets has been their problem all season, one that has been camouflaged because of the four All-Stars. A worthless bench.
The Dying Bench. Kevin Looney is getting roasted in pick and roll. Nick Young and Shaun Livingston are giving the Warriors a combined 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell are interchangeable. Both too young to make an impact. The Big 4 don’t have much help and with Iggy out of the bench mix, there’s not much production or confidence coming from the bench. When you have to rely on Nick Young to do something, there are issues.
photo via llananba