ORLANDO, Fla. — When Stephen Curry went down with a left foot sprain last Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors knew they had a difficult final stretch to the regular season.
They expected some bumps in the road — their entire system is built around Curry. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it’s like a “domino effect” when he’s out of the lineup.
But, they have now dropped three games in a row — most recently a 94-90 loss to the Orlando Magic — and are 2-6 without Curry this season. The concern level is growing.
“I think we’re playing soft,” Draymond Green said. “We’re playing stupid. We’re just not playing good basketball and we’re getting punked. It’s hard to win a game getting punked. So that’s where we are right now.”
Against the Magic, the fourth quarter is where it went awry for the Warriors, who scored just 16 points in the final period. But, it wasn’t just that quarter that cost them the game.
Green, along with Kerr, rattled off a laundry list of things Golden State didn’t do well — fouling 3-point shooters, setting illegal screens, being late on switches. The common denominator according to them is that the Warriors’ execution has been poor.
“We have to be smarter,” Kerr said. “There has to be a level of discipline and accountability, of competitive desire. And, I know these are great guys. I love these guys. I know they want to win. But we have to learn how to win. Right now we don’t know how to win.”
“In order to execute, that requires a certain level of physicality,” Green said. “We’re not meeting that.”
With just 10 games left in the regular season, time is running out for the Warriors to learn how to win. And the current issues they are suffering from won’t be fixed by simply adding Curry back into the lineup, just as the issues the Warriors had without Green or Klay Thompson weren’t immediately fixed when they came back from their respective injuries.
“This has zero to do with Steph,” Green said. “Steph doesn’t bring that level of physicality to the game, nor should he. That’s not his job.”
Golden State doesn’t like to use the fact that it hasn’t had a fully healthy roster this season as an excuse. It’s something every team in the league goes through, the Warriors repeatedly say. It doesn’t make them special. And it’s true.
But, just as the Phoenix Suns have gone 10-4 without Chris Paul, and the Memphis Grizzlies went 10-2 without Ja Morant back in early December, the Warriors must figure out how to survive without their star.
Their first two full games without Curry — against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and the Magic on Tuesday — were two opportunities to do so. Instead, they dropped them both. Now they head into the final four games of the road trip that has them playing five games in seven days. One of those games is at Memphis.
“No disrespect to the Orlando Magic, but that’s one of the worst teams in the league. We can’t match that with them,” Green said. “And if you can’t match that with them, you definitely can’t match that going against a great team.”
“I don’t care who is out there,” Green said. “You can go to the park and be outmatched but you don’t get punked … that’s what we’re doing.”