The Warriors produced a baffling brand of bullshit last night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Going into the fourth quarter, Golden State seemed to have everything locked tight: a 24-point lead, Steph putting up nearly 40, a nasty Iguodala reverse jam, some dazzling back court action—even the Silicon Valley bandwagoners ignored their 'totally disruptive' apps, and were on their feet at Oracle. And then Memphis limited the Dubs to 13 points in the fourth quarter, forced overtime, and snatched the W right out of the 3-1 lead blowers' clutches.
For those who have followed Memphis this year, the result wasn't too big of a surprise. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph paired brilliantly on offense, and Memphis plays the kind of defense that picks the Warriors' lock—great perimeter work, and enough big guys in the lane to threaten any inroads.
Ironically, Curry owed a lot of his big night to fancy layup work. He repeatedly drove and drew multiple players, refused to dish, but made out with some spectacular reverse circus-shot layups. Add a couple of and-1's in, and you're humming.
But something broke down—stick in the spokes, jump the handlebars-type stuff. That's the second kind of Warriors that they don't tell you about. Of course, there's the ever-hyped type of Warriors who zip the ball around to find the best shot, but there's also the iso-all-day, hero-ball Warriors that's easy to ignore when it works, but is so ugly when it doesn't. Last night, that hero-ball got ugly.
The above sequence is a kind of perfect microcosm of everywhere the Warriors are going wrong this season. Curry seems pissed that the ball isn't in his hands for the final shot, but despite having a hot night, he isn't exactly having a hot season. So Kevin Durant seems like the right choice, right? Well, it's also KD, who—regardless of how MVP his season looks—is still that fourth-quarter-blowing OKC player that he once was. Draymond isn't happy about the situation—seemingly for the aforementioned reasons. But also, maybe there's something more complicated than that going on—a Steve Kerr-drawn play gone awry, an iso too clustered. Either way, the power dynamics are too poorly-wired to create effective ball.
Draymond took his frustrations to the media after the game. And he was anything but shy:
"I'm actually happy we lost today. There are some things we need to correct to win a championship," Green said, later adding, "I'm kind of thrilled that we lost, because you usually make corrections when you lose."
Draymond is known to run his mouth and can say some stupid shit sometimes, but he's on to something here. The Warriors have lost that kind of joyism that brought them through so many soul-crushing leads the past two years. Before, for the Warriors, losing didn't seem like an option. Even when they were down, a miracle shot or two could salve the situation. Now, it seems like a fear of losing gnaws at them the whole game. For however annoying and childish the 'Warriors blew a 3-1 lead' meme is, it seems to be the reality that haunts them in situations like these. The super team's capes need plenty of patchwork right now.