State Of The Warriors, March 2021: Can This Season Be Saved?
(originally written 3/19/21)
(This blog took over two days to complete, and the Warriors are now 22-20 after wins over Houston and Memphis. But I've decided to not update the timetable, so you can feel what I was feeling after the Lakers loss.)
As I begin this, the Golden State Warriors are licking their fresh wounds after absorbing a 30-point beatdown at the hands of the defending champion Lakers, so I will work to keep my raw emotions out of this blog. Beatdowns by the Lakers are especially traumatic for longtime fans like me who used to watch them happen 3-4 times a year in the Dark Era (the majority of 1995-2012)
I don't know how I feel about my team these days.
Actually, I do. I feel frustration.
All season long the Warriors have vacillated between two-game win streaks during which they resemble a playoff team, and two-game loss streaks during which they barely seem familiar with the sport of basketball. They've repeatedly tricked us fans into believing they've turned a corner and five or six straight victories are in queue. Then they get crapped on by teams like Orlando and New York and Charlotte.
Finally, just before the All-Star break, Golden State wins three in a row to reach 19-15 on the season.
This is followed by four losses in a row that drops them all the way back to .500.
Next, the Warriors exact revenge against the league's best team, Utah, who had demolished them in their first meeting. But that's followed by a thrashing from the short-handed Lakers in which all aspects of competitive defense and competent offense were lacking from tip to horn.
I feel skepticism. Which team IS THIS???
It's been scientifically proven that G Stephen Curry's new hairstyle factored directly in his and the Warriors' slow start to the 2020-21 season...good riddance.
Is C James Wiseman ever going to figure out how to stay down on pump fakes? Is C Kevon Looney ever going to be able to elevate near the basket? Does F Andrew Wiggins ever plan to string together two straight impact games? Is G Kelly Oubre just a guy who lights up bad teams, only to all but disappear when Golden State needs him the most? When will "the second unit is still learning the offense" or "the second unit is still learning each other" no longer qualify as justifiable excuses for crap play?
Along with the frustration and skepticism is a dash of appeasement.
I have a heap of perspective. This time one year ago, Golden State was on hiatus with a 15-50 record, worst in the league by four games. By that time, there hadn't been a real reason to watch them play for weeks (unless Jeremy Pargo's scoring mini-bursts really did it for you). There was that beautiful new arena, true. But the Warriors stars were injured, the Warriors youngsters were ordinary and the Warriors losses were often ugly.
(One particular game against the Lakers stands out. I tuned in after halftime, watched Golden State turn the ball over on something like four of five possessions—each resulting in easy Laker baskets—and quickly tuned right back out. I love the Warriors and I have for almost 30 years now. But at that moment I just...couldn't.)
I'm trying to keep all that in mind as I "endure" the up-and-down performances of the 2020-21 team. They've been mostly competitive. G Stephen Curry is once again among the league's most productive players. Though he's taken many lumps so far, Wiseman is the best young big they've had since possibly Chris Webber. And the other youngsters, notably F Eric Paschall and G Jordan Poole, have made strides.
Still, it's hard to be satisfied with 20-20 when Golden State has pissed away so many winnable games. In that regard, I feel something bordering on rage.
It's like that guy/gal you were once interested in. They're fun, they're smart, they're cute, they're superior to your last ex in every way and they would be a great partner in just about every way...except you can't get past their complete inability (refusal) to flush the toilet behind themselves.
COULD you overlook the person's cosmic flaw and just appreciate all they DO bring to the table, especially since they're still so much better than your last partner?
The answer is a resounding NO, because you know they are capable of better, and you are not going to accept less just because "it could be worse".
Which brings me to the winnable games that the Warriors have pissed away.
More specifically, the winnable games that F Draymond Green pissed away.
I'm still not over them.