OAKLAND — Whenever the Warriors lose the way they did Saturday, people surmise that they don’t care. How could a team of four All-Stars (Stephen Curry didn’t play) lose to the second-worst team in the Western Conference, by 35 points, at home?
The Warriors would love to skip the regular season and advance to the playoffs, where their legacy will truly be cemented. The record 73-win season will always have the asterisk of losing the 2016 NBA Finals after leading the series, 3-1. But throughout five months of regular season play, inevitable storylines sprout, whether Kevin Durant’s and Draymond Green’s fued, Durant’s impending free agency, or dumbfounding losses like the one Saturday night that make you double-take.
As a member of three separate dynasties — the ’90s Bulls, mid-2000s Spurs, and these current Warriors — Steve Kerr certainly knows the everyday challenges of preeminence. That’s why, when he was asked about the narrative that the Warriors do not seem to care at times, Kerr put everything into perspective.
“Here’s what I think,” Kerr said. “I drove home last night, and as disappointed as I was, as surprised as I was, I realized over five years, what’s more surprising than that game last night is not having any of those games for three years. The first three years of this run, I don’t think we had a single game like that. You think about what these guys are doing, night after night after night, taking everybody’s best shot, playing deep into June, it’s actually surprising that there haven’t been more of those nights over the years.”
Kerr is right. In the 2014-15 season, the Warriors’ largest margin of defeat was 16 points. In 2014-15, the year in which they won a record 73 regular season games, they lost by a season-high 28 points. In 2015-16, the worst loss was a 29-point defeat.
This year, the Warriors have lost by margins of 35, 33, and 28 points. They have gotten beat by 20-plus points eight times. Kerr has a reason for that.
“What you have seen the last couple years, the last two seasons, is we have had some letdowns,” Kerr said. “We have had some nights like that. It’s hard for anybody to understand what these guys go through physically, emotionally, spiritually, trying to defend crown, trying to win the title, trying to stay on top of the mountain. It’s hard. Last night they had nothing. They had nothing in the tank. The great thing about this team, as I mentioned, is they always bounce back because they have so much pride.”
One night after losing by 35, the Warriors beat the visiting Detroit Pistons, 121-114, Sunday. The Warriors have lost back-to-back games one time since December.
“What they have accomplished,” Kerr continued, “this team has the best record over the last four seasons of any four-year period in the history of the NBA. So, what they have done is just remarkable. Last night was tough, but it’s really tough to do what they have done, too. We are going to give them a pass, we are going to move on, and we played a good game tonight, and we roll on. I prefer to look back at how few games there have been like last night’s over the last five years rather than the opposite.”