After the Clippers beat the brakes off the Warriors on Friday, coach Steve Kerr offered the following foreboding quote to reporters about what his team should expect for the remainder of the season:
“This is not a one-off, this is the reality,” Kerr said. “There’s going to be nights like this this year. You’ve got to play through it, you’ve got to keep fighting and keep getting better. That’s the plan.”
“Losing stinks. It’s no fun. This is more the reality of the NBA. ... The last five years we’ve been living in a world that isn’t supposed to exist. Five years of, if I remember, the best record anybody’s ever had over five years. So this is reality, nine guys 23 or younger, and we’re starting over in many respects.”
It’s hard to imagine that Kerr was thinking about his team’s upcoming game against the Thunder when discussing the idea of future blowouts, but on Sunday his words rang true. Golden State was once again on the receiving end of thorough beatdown. But instead of Lou Williams or Kawhi Leonard being the architects, the production came from the hands of players like Dennis Schroder (22 points, eight rebounds, six assists), Danilo Gallinari (21 points) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (19-9-4).
The 120-92 final score actually understates just how poorly things went for the Warriors. At halftime, they were down 70-37, marking the first time since 2006 that Golden State had been down 30 or more points at halftime, and the team’s largest halftime deficit since 1997. In those first two quarters, Kerr’s boys allowed the Thunder to shoot 56.5 percent, while they only converted at a rate of 27.5 percent. The only player on the Warriors worth respecting was D’Angelo Russell, who was smart enough to get ejected for arguing with an official less than five minutes into the second half so that he didn’t have to endure this nonsense for any longer.
The obvious caveat here is that the season is only two games old for Golden State, and even though they’re winless, one of those losses came against a very good Clippers team. They’re also still trying to figure out how to deal without having players like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson as regular fixtures in the lineup. At the same time, this is a Thunder team that only became notable this offseason when they shipped off their two best players to prepare for what many assumed would be a tanking year. Prior to Sunday, Oklahoma City had committed to that plan rather well by losing to the Jazz and the Wizards(!).
There’s also some early warning signs. Steph Curry, for example, was the only player on his team capable of producing any offense for most of the first quarter. It wasn’t until 5:33 left in that period that someone not named Steph scored a basket—which is also when Golden State finally broke into double-digits. Yet even if someone wanted to use that low benchmark as a basis for optimism in this game, they were likely quickly disheartened by the following Thunder possession, where Steven Adams looked like an older cousin taunting children in the driveway.
But beyond that sequence, the fact of the matter is that the Warriors just don’t look right. They can’t score from three, they’re sloppy with the ball, and even their best attempts at defense still result in players like Terrance Ferguson driving and scoring on Draymond Green with ease. It was obvious that this version of Golden State wasn’t going to be the same as past iterations of the team, but this level of early struggle has been quite a shock and appears to be breaking the team’s cornerstones.
The Warriors have 80 games to figure things out, and considering how good Curry and Green can be on the court, and how good Kerr can be as a coach, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll figure out how to make things suck less sooner rather than later. But until then, on behalf of the NBA watching community that had to witness this team steamroll the league for five years, they can eat shit.