The Golden State Warriors lost to the Sacramento Kings on Monday and are a pedestrian 2-2 in their last four games, which caused head coach Steve Kerr to question the team's killer instinct to this point.
"We're not stepping on people's throats like we used to," Kerr said Tuesday, per Carl Steward of the Mercury News. "I'm OK with that for now. But eventually we're going to have to get back to that point."
Golden State is still 15-6, but Steward noted four of those six defeats happened after the defending champions amassed double-digit leads and let the opposition remain within striking distance.
According to Steward, the Warriors lost a mere nine times in Kerr's first 246 regular-season games as head coach when they built a double-digit lead, and five of those came in his first season in 2014-15—which ended with the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
It should be noted go-to playmakers Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant didn't even play in Monday's contest when the Warriors lost a double-digit lead to the Kings. Kerr recognized the long-term health and approach of his team has played a role in the additional losses after quick starts this season.
"The difference is this is Year 4 of us trying to get back to the Finals, and the first couple years, it just felt like there was a stronger desire to knock teams out," he said. "This year, we're just thinking more big picture long-term, myself included. We know what we're up against with the yearlong journey."
Curry echoed his coach's sentiments, per Steward, but recognized it will be important to get the killer instinct back by season's end: "We're going to need to do that down the stretch of the season and in the playoffs when we step on a team early. You have to figure out how to sustain that for 48 minutes."
Golden State will have an opportunity to start blowing teams out again during its upcoming road trip, which starts Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Three of the six teams it faces are under .500, and only the 13-6 Detroit Pistons are more than two games over .500.
The concern is something of a rich man's problem for a team coming off three straight trips to the NBA Finals, especially since it is still tops in the league in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating, per NBA.com, despite being less than 100 percent healthy.
Kerr wants to see more of a willingness to step on throats when the opposition's back is against the wall, but maintaining that combination of dominant defense and offense should be enough to carry the Warriors deep into the postseason yet again.