Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Warriors stumbling into the All-Star break

Feb 13, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT

David Lee, Stephen Curry

The Extra Pass is a column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme. Today, we look at what has gone wrong with the Golden State Warriors lately.

There has been no bigger darling of the first half of the NBA season than the Golden State Warriors. Pegged as a fringe playoff team heading into the campaign, the Warriors have surprised nearly everyone with inspired play on both sides of the ball and a firm place in the standings as one of the West’s better teams.

That success, however, has not been there recently. The Warriors have lost 5 straight games and 6 of their last 10, leading to a fall in the standings from 4th to 6th in the ultra competitive West. And if you listen to Andrew Bogut tell it, the Warriors seem to have too high an opinion of themselves as a team:

And we’re not there–we’re not who we think we are. I think we thought we were maybe a little better than we were.

Bogut has a history of not pulling any punches when critiquing his team (or himself) and his comments reflect the idea that while the Warriors have played well to this point in the year, they’re now struggling to adapt to the idea that they have to bring it every night. Complacency — especially amongst top teams — can be common in the NBA and it seems the Warriors, if you listen to Bogut, have caught that bug.

It’s one thing to talk about a mindset, however, and quite another to look at where the team is failing on the court; where they’re not executing. For the Warriors, it’s mostly been their defense that has been letting them down.

One of their keys to success this year has been a commitment to defending better. Head coach Mark Jackson has implemented simpler defensive schemes and has put players in position to succeed by drilling them on their responsibilities on any given action. With players understanding where they need to be and when they need to be there, Jackson has been able to turn average individual defenders into a group that was posting a top 12 defensive efficiency before their recent skid.

Lately, however, things are breaking down all over the floor. Individuals are allowing their man to beat them too often and that’s forcing the team into too many help situations. Once you force a team to help it only takes one breakdown from a secondary defender to turn a possession into a win for the offense. These breakdowns have become commonplace for the Warriors with individuals not only failing to stop their own man, but back line and secondary help defenders not doing their jobs to rotate and snuff out what the offense wants to do. Bigs have been late to stop dribble penetration and wings haven’t been digging down to the paint and still recovering back to the wing to contest shooters when the ball is kicked back out.

The resulting numbers have been downright miserable.

In their last 5 games Golden State has allowed a defensive efficiency of 117.1, a mark that would rank them last in the league by nearly 9 points per 100 possessions if given up over an entire season. Teams have been shooting 48.8% from the field and 43.8% from behind the arc during this stretch. Some of these numbers are surely opponent based. They’ve played the Rockets and Thunder a combined three times in those five games, both top 5 teams in offensive efficiency. However, in the other two losses they let the Mavs score 116 points and allowed a bottom 10 efficiency Grizzlies team to put up a mark a full 5 points (per 100 possessions) above their average. So it’s not as simple as chalking up these numbers to the excellence of the other team.

The Warriors have also seen a slip in their offensive performance. They’re scoring under a point per possession in their losing streak and have seen dips in every statistical category on that side of the ball. Most telling is their dip in three point shooting where they’re not only being held to fewer attempts per game but are also worse percentage wise. At the heart of these issues are the recent struggles of Steph Curry (38.5% shooting over the last 5) and Klay Thompson (40% shooting over the last 5), prompting questions about whether or not this duo is able to effectively play together long term.

And when you add the back court struggles to the dip in production from All-Star David Lee and the integration of Bogut (who, after returning from his ankle surgery, is still on a minutes restriction and unable to play on back to back nights), there are just too many things that have not been in this team’s favor lately.

In this regard, the All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the struggling Warriors. Their last game before the break was last night’s loss to the Rockets and they don’t play again until a week from now. That rest should allow them to recharge their batteries mentally and physically and reset their season.

That said, if they come back displaying the same lack of effort on defense while continuing to struggle to meet their season standards on offense, their slide will continue. They must get back to defending with purpose and finding ways to work better together on offense while integrating Bogut on both sides of the floor. If they can get that done, they’ll regain their form and compete for a top 4 seed come playoff time.

But if they don’t, their slip in the standings will continue and they may end up proving all those pre-season projections correct by being a fringe playoff team after all.

*Statistical support for this post from NBA.com

Latest Posts
  1. Joakim Noah wants Tom Thibodeau to do yoga with him

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptq2njewnzjmmgrhmwvjyjm2mtnjzju3ymqwzgm4zmmy AP

    Tom Thibodeau is not the yoga type.

  2. Cavs coach David Blatt will treat Monday’s preseason minutes like the regular season

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will take the floor together for the first time since the preseason opener.

  3. NBA’s 44-minute game clocks in at under two hours, players barely notice

    Oct 19, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    NETS V CELTICS NETS V CELTICS

    Experimental preseason game between Nets and Celtics took place Sunday.

  4. Nets coach Hollins on 44-minute game: ‘The change will be for the guys who don’t start’

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Sacramento Kings - NBA Global Games Beijing Getty Images

    Hollins won’t adjust starters minutes as he coaches the Nets during the experimental game Sunday.

  5. Gloria James narrates LeBron’s latest Beats commercial

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    “Akron” celebrates James’ homecoming.

  6. Carmelo Anthony on fewer back-to-backs: “That’s the dream”

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    The Knicks star says the biggest issue for players is the amount of consecutive games they play.

  7. Carmelo Anthony doesn’t think he’ll win scoring title playing in Knicks’ Triangle Offense

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony Carmelo Anthony

    Anthony should have more help than in the recent past, but he’ll need to score plenty in order for his team to have a shot.

  8. Hakeem Olajuwon: Dwight Howard ‘ready’ for MVP-type season

    Oct 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks

    Olajuwon is employed by the Rockets, and has been working with Howard the last two summers.

  9. Report: Celtics likely to waive Will Bynum after acquiring him in trade with Pistons

    Oct 18, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Will Bynum AP

    Celtics have too many guaranteed contracts, and are already set at Bynum’s position.

Featured video

What are impacts of NBA's new TV deal?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (3529)
  2. L. James (3413)
  3. D. Rose (3379)
  4. J. Lin (3259)
  5. V. Oladipo (3172)