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sport / / BANG/Kurtenbach: Everything is on the line for the Warriors. They’re finally playing like it.

o BANG/Kurtenbach: Everything is on the line for the Warriors. They’re finally plaAllen

BANG/Kurtenbach: Everything is on the line for the Warriors. They’re finally playing like it.


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG/Kurtenbach:_Everything_is_on_the_line_for_the_Warr
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2024 20:10:42 -0700
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 by: Allen - Fri, 29 Mar 2024 03:10 UTC

Kurtenbach: Everything is on the line for the Warriors. They’re finally
playing like it.
Golden State Warriors: With the past, present, and future at stake for
Steph Curry and the Dubs, they turned in two of their best performances
this season.
>ORLANDO, FLORIDA – MARCH 27: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State
Warriors looks on during a game against the Orlando Magic at Kia Center
on March 27, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this
photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty
Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

PUBLISHED: March 28, 2024 at 10:40 a.m. | UPDATED: March 28, 2024 at
3:49 p.m.

The best piece of direction legendary actor Gary Oldman says he ever
received only needed four words to be communicated:

“There’s more at stake.”

Oldman, playing Commissioner Jim Gordon in director Christopher Nolan’s
Batman movies, had just fluffed a take, unbeknownst to him, and the
director provided that feedback.

Nolan didn’t need to launch into a self-indulgent monologue or provide a
rah-rah motivational speech. He just needed to help a great performer
shift his tone a bit. In four words, he did that. Brevity is truly genius.

Oldman picked up what Nolan was putting down. He nailed the next take.

I wonder if Warriors coach Steve Kerr provided similar feedback to the
Warriors before the team’s Florida back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday.

Countless hours of talking-head bloviation, barrels of ink, and infinite
pixels have been used to discuss these Dubs. Are they good enough? Is
the dynasty over? Why can’t they seem to lock in?

Don’t they know there’s more at stake?

The Warriors aren’t just playing for the No. 10 seed in the Western
Conference play-in tournament — tiddlywinks by this dynastic core’s
standards. Everything is on the line for the Dubs — the past, present,
and future.

In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, people will remember if
these Warriors go out sad.

And if these Warriors cannot even make the postseason — or whatever
purgatory the NBA considers the PIT — they have to know that dramatic
changes are coming this offseason.

It’s not my money, but it’s impossible to justify Warriors CEO Joe Lacob
keeping the most expensive team in NBA history together after not even
making the play-in tournament. For the first time in my professional
history, I would advocate for a team to cut payroll. At some point,
being expensive is offensive, and these Warriors are toeing the line,
putting the futures of Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, and Andrew Wiggins
futures in limbo.

There’s some heavy stuff at play here.

And yet we watched the Dubs sleepwalk through critical games the last
few weeks as if everything would work out just fine — it’ll take care of
itself. The Warriors played with an entitlement they haven’t earned this
season or last.

But we haven’t seen it in the last two games. A small sample size? Sure,
but at this point, we’ll take whatever we can get.

And whether it was good direction by Kerr, a rah-rah speech from Steph
Curry or Draymond Green, the inspiration everyone with a pulse would
take from one of my columns, or the red-hot Houston Rockets — a fire was
lit under the Dubs before they played in Florida.

Let’s be even more specific:

A fire was lit under Wiggins.

The Warriors have maintained — perhaps delusionally — that amid months
of up-and-down play, they have a higher gear they can reach this season.

We might have seen that other gear in Miami and Orlando.

It had nothing to do with Curry (who looks tired). Thompson had strong
stretches, but that wasn’t it, either.

Wiggins is the difference between the Warriors being mediocre and
something more dangerous. It always has been this way, and perhaps it
always will be.

He’s played with force in the last two games. Has he been perfect?
Hardly. But he has made himself known on both ends of the court, and
that’s a dramatic improvement. In all, he scored 40 points on 51 percent
shooting and registered two blocks per game. After months of floating,
he was a difference-maker.

This Wiggins was the second-best player on a title team less than two
years ago. The Warriors looked like a different team with him back in
that long-vacated No. 2 role.

It’s equal parts encouraging and frustrating.

My dad used to tell me that some people are “born without a sense of
urgency.” I had no idea I’d recall that line so often in adult life.

But Wiggins has, indeed, kicked his game into gear; if he’s figured out
that his future with the Warriors is on the line in the final weeks of
the season; if he has found a sense of urgency, then we might have some
fun down the stretch and beyond.

And if this is just another tease — well, that will make shipping out
his contract at the end of the season to dip under the luxury tax
threshold all the easier.

No one would be bold enough to predict where this goes.

Perhaps even Wiggins doesn’t know.

But Wiggins saw Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody play with force next to
him and decided to get in on the act during the last two games. He’s
remembered that he can be a difference maker.

And when you pair that kind of impact from a true three-level, two-way
wing with a team that knows there’s more at stake than just a play-in
tournament game, you have something quite interesting. You might even
have something worthwhile.

Improbably, and perhaps even unjustly, the Warriors can rewrite their
season’s story over the final 10 games.

The first draft would suggest that after two well-played games, they’ll
go back to dogging it on transition defense, allowing blow-by after
blow-by on the perimeter, and standing around a lot on offense either
Friday in Charlotte or Sunday in San Antonio. They’ll rest on the
laurels they don’t actually have.

But it might be different. That’s why Kerr was handing out bear hugs,
first to Wiggins, then to Curry after Wednesday’s win. That’s why Curry
blew his fuse after Draymond’s early-game ejection. That’s why Wiggins
has looked like a 2022 edition of himself.

This team might truly know there is more at stake.

sport / / BANG/Kurtenbach: Everything is on the line for the Warriors. They’re finally playing like it.


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