Maybe it is the change of pace resulting from the return of Andrew Bogut. Maybe it is just a case of teams being flat-out better than them. Maybe they’re just tired. What is known is that a Western Conference playoff spot is no longer a guarantee for the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors are in the middle of a season-altering slump, losing four games in a row for the first time this season. Even worse, it was during a relatively important Western Conference road trip against four teams with deep playoff ambitions—a true measuring stick for the Dubs.
Golden State never rose to the occasion in any of the four games.
The tests for the Warriors keep on coming, though. Their next four games will feature three matchups against teams currently in the top eight in the Western Conference, including the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
Although it does matter how the Warriors fair in the final game before the All-Star break, they have already set the tone for the second half of the season, and it would appear as though the team cannot get to the break fast enough.
This team needs rest and an entirely fresh, new half season of basketball to play—getting there on a positive note is key and playing 10 games in 16 days has been no help.
In addition to a tired group of players that has led to a lapse on the defensive end, the Warriors have had their fair share of midseason changes. Golden State has not appeared to be the same since the return of Bogut, and that has truly played a role in the way they have played as of late. There is a new brand of basketball on the floor with a new change of pace. It has obviously taken some getting used to, especially when matched up against elite teams.
Whether intentional or not, Bogut has changed the mentality of this team, but that can only be improved in the second half of the season as his minutes increase and the Warriors truly understand their style of basketball with a full roster.
However, the struggles have raised questions about the longevity of the Warriors. Can a team that relies solely on the success of their shooters compete for an entire season in the NBA? Can they even contend in a seven-game series in the playoffs?
The early part of this season would suggest they can, but shutting down the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson from the floor seems to come easy these days for the high level of competition Golden State played over the past couple of weeks. An entire week off for the All-Star break can cure that, but questions still remain about the sustainability this team.
If there is any bright side to the past couple of weeks for the Warriors, it is that they appear to be a more well-rounded basketball team with Bogut on the floor. The win column would not suggest that, but matching up with teams on paper is no longer a struggle.
While that may be the consolation prize for the first half of the NBA season for the Warriors, matchups on paper will not get them into the playoffs. A revitalized and defense-driven second half will.
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