Let’s briefly acknowledge all the required caveats: that this was just the first game of a long season, that recent history has proven super teams always take time to gel, that the Golden State Warriors are still going to kick tons of ass this year.
Okay, we good? Because holy shit, you guys, the Warriors opened their season by getting blown the fuck out! At home! They looked pretty goddamn bad while doing it! Some dude named Jonathon Simmons dropped 20 on them and embarrassed the league MVP while he was at it! Steph Curry may have been irrevocably damaged by Kevin Love’s lockdown Finals defense! Kevin Durant? More like Kevin Durcan’t! Draymond Green is too busy thinking about not striking any genitals to be an effective basketball player! Will this team even win 40 games?? I wouldn’t bet on it!!
Nice. That felt nice.
Schadenfreude aside, I don’t think it’s crazy to make something out of the fact that a team that only lost nine games a season ago and added one of the best scorers in NBA history in the offseason got beaten so soundly at home. This team started last season with 24 straight wins and didn’t lose a home game until April. In that context, what happened last night is genuinely weird.
It’s hard to even pinpoint what went wrong, mostly because not much went particularly right. Durant looked fine, scoring 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, but the Warriors’ offensive rhythm and spacing felt off all night. It was easy to imagine Durant stepping in for Harrison Barnes and ensuring that the Warriors will never lose a game, but it’s hard to ask a player of Durant’s quality to do nothing but stand in the corner and wait for open threes in order to maintain the offense’s shape and spacing. I don’t doubt that the Warriors will figure out how to adapt to Durant’s presence, but last night was a glimpse at the growing pains ahead.
There were struggles on the defensive end of the floor as well. The Warriors’ front court, now featuring Zaza Pachulia and David West in place of Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut, got pushed around all night. They surrendered 50 points in the paint and let the Spurs grab 21 offensive rebounds, which helped give San Antonio 26 second-chance points.
More than anything else, though, the Warriors were simply outmuscled and outplayed by the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge had his way with any defender that was thrown at him, Simmons carried the second unit, and Kawhi Leonard was a problem the Dubs had no shot at solving. He scored a career-high 35 points while playing his usual lockdown defense—he finished with five steals—and also showed that he now has this shot in his arsenal:
That clip is a pretty accurate representation of the entire game. The Warriors were just a step slow all night, always threatening to go on one of those 24-3 runs that swings a game but never quite getting their feet under them long enough to see it through. The Warriors were simply the second-best team on the floor, and that’s not something that should ever be said about this squad, first-game jitters or not.
Who knows how many more times this will happen to the Warriors throughout the season, so feel free to make last night’s loss as big of a deal as you want. If they lose to the Pelicans on Friday, we’ll have a parade.