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sport / / BANG: How the Warriors lost their way this season

o BANG: How the Warriors lost their way this seasonAllen

BANG: How the Warriors lost their way this season


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG: How the Warriors lost their way this season
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 16:46:05 -0700
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 by: Allen - Wed, 17 Apr 2024 23:46 UTC

How the Warriors lost their way this season
Golden State Warriors could not beat contenders, and blew too many
winnable games to take advantage of one of Steph Curry's prime seasons
>Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry #30 Draymond Green, #23 and Klay
Thompson #11 react in the fourth quarter of their NBA play-in tournament
game against the Sacramento Kings at the Golden One Center in
Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Thompson is now a free
agent. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Danny Emerman is a Bay Area News Group sports reporter
By DANNY EMERMAN | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: April 17, 2024 at 11:55 a.m. | UPDATED: April 17, 2024 at
12:56 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — Any season can be defined by its moments, the everlasting
split-seconds burned into memories.

For the Warriors — the historically expensive club desperate to lay more
tracks for its dynastic train — too many of those moments were
self-inflicted damage.

Draymond Green saw red too many times — a headlock here, a flail there —
costing him a quarter of the season. Game-winning prayers from Nikola
Jokic and Malik Monk rattled in instead of out, putting the Warriors on
the wrong side of the blown-lead ledger. They stuck with their starting
lineup from last year too long, and didn’t add or subtract at the deadline.

And so, their season ended on April 16 in Sacramento. The next morning,
they cleaned out their lockers at the Chase Center. Viewed through the
prism of wringing out the most of every last great Steph Curry season,
this year was squandered. Too many dark moments eclipsed those of promise.

“At the end of the day, I just want to win,” Curry said in Sacramento.
“I know that’s fully possible. I know this summer’s going to be a lot of
conversations, trying to set up ourselves to win — whatever that means.
I hope that’s the outcome.”

>Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry reacts while speaking to the
media after their 118-94 NBA play-in tournament loss against the
Sacramento Kings at the Golden One Center in Sacramento, Calif., on
Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

The Warriors went 10-11 in games Green missed due to suspension. At the
podium after the Warriors’ season ended in Sacramento, Green said he
could count off the top of his head at least six losses off the top of
his head the Warriors “gave away.”

Collapsing and letting winnable games slip away was an issue with or
without Green. They blew a 24-point lead in the in-season tournament to
Sacramento. They choked away an 18-point lead late against Denver. They
failed to close out the Thunder twice in overtime.

Steve Kerr constantly tinkered with his starting lineup and rotation,
seeking combinations that work. Not enough shooting with this
frontcourt, too light on the boards with that one, can’t hold up
defensively with the three guards. The Warriors’ roster had depth, but
it was flawed. They never had a reliable secondary scorer next to Curry.

A common denominator: The Warriors consistently lost to contending
teams. Against the six Western Conference teams to clinch playoff berths
before the play-in, Golden State won just four of 23 games.

There were positive signs, of course. Despite finishing 10th in the
loaded Western Conference, the Warriors won more games than they did
last year. They won 10 of their last 12 games, tearing through a
difficult road schedule, and never wavered from their belief that they
could beat anyone in any high-leverage situation. With Brandin
Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, Mike Dunleavy Jr. aced his first draft.

>Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry #30 heads to the locker room
after their NBA 118-94 play-in tournament loss to the Sacramento Kings
at the Golden One Center in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, April 16,
2024. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

It just wasn’t enough to avoid a premature, unceremonious end to the
season. Curry, Green and Klay Thompson were mostly healthy all year, and
the Warriors still missed the playoffs.

Ahead of the trade deadline, the Warriors were floundering at 23-25.
Curry, in a rare personnel-related admission, said that changes were
necessary. “That’s the definition of insanity, right? Keep doing the
same thing, expecting a different result.”

To their credit, Golden State made adjustments. The Warriors went small,
with Draymond Green starting at center. They brought Thompson off the
bench for the first time in his career. Jackson-Davis joined Green in
the starting frontcourt, fortifying their defense and solidifying their

Kerr let Jonathan Kuminga play through more mistakes and trusted the
rookies to contribute. Golden State went 22-11 to finish the year and,
by virtue of a strong West, became the winningest team to ever finish
10th in a conference.

But the Warriors — winners of four championships in the past decade —
don’t hang banners for play-in seasons. And even when they were rolling,
there were hints the Warriors were never really in the NBA’s upper
class. They went 22-31 against teams with winning records and 24-5
against everyone else. They beat up on the bottom-feeders and got
outclassed by the true contenders.

>Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr cheers on his team the
second quarter of their NBA play-in tournament game against the
Sacramento Kings at the Golden One Center in Sacramento, Calif., on
Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Optimizing every season as long as the 36-year-old Curry remains one of
the best players in the games should be the annual goal. This season,
despite progress, they failed to squeeze out another postseason run.

“This is life,” Kerr said after his team was eliminated. “This is how it
works. You don’t get to stay on top forever.”

They lost in the moments, and the moments became the aggregate. Now they
face another crossroads in Klay Thompson’s free agency. Kerr, Curry and
Green are under contract through 2026, but could they drop the other
pillar of the dynasty? They need to get more athletic, better, and
cheaper. Thompson might not check enough of those boxes.

“I could never see myself not with those two guys,” Curry said of
Thompson and Green.

Kurtenbach: The Warriors’ future is murky, but here’s what to expect
this offseason
Warriors exit interviews: Gary Payton II wants to stay long-term,
Chris Paul not done yet
Photos: Golden State Warriors season is over after 118-94 play-in
tournament loss to Sacramento Kings
Warriors' dynasty is over. It ended in embarrassment
Klay Thompson went ice cold vs. Kings, but Warriors say they ‘need’
him back

But despite a better record than last year, they slipped from sixth to
10th place, and it won’t get easier. Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs
will only improve. Memphis will get a healthy Ja Morant next year. The
Nuggets, Timberwolves and Mavericks aren’t going anywhere.

As Green said, you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.

Everything should be on the table for the Warriors. Curry’s contract and
age give them a three-year window to assemble a championship-caliber
roster around him — with every succeeding year becoming more difficult
than the past. He’s still elite, and the Warriors will never have
another player like him.

They can’t afford to waste another of his last great seasons – and that
pursuit of another title might cost them their dynastic core.

“I understand this league changes and there’s so many things that go
into it, and we’re not going to play forever,” Curry said. “But we’ve
experienced so much together. At the end of the day, again, I know they
want to win, I want to win — that’s all I’m worried about.”

>Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) lowers his head as the final
minutes wind down in the fourth quarter of their NBA play-in tournament
game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, April 16,
2024. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 118-94.
(Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

sport / / BANG: How the Warriors lost their way this season


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