By the time Bobby Portis drilled a 3 at the halftime horn and shimmied the Warriors off the court, the game was already over.
Golden State had scored 38 first-half points and trailed at one point by a season-high 39 points. Without Draymond Green, in the house of the defending champions, amid a stretch coach Steve Kerr referred to as some midseason blues, the Warriors took their biggest beating of the 2021-22 season.
Nothing went right for Golden State (30-11). Stephen Curry’s slump continued, as he scored 12 points on 11 shots while Wes Matthews, George Hill and Milwaukee’s wings pestered him. Klay Thompson (3-for-11 from the floor) had his worst game since returning.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning Finals MVP, dominated as the Bucks cruised to a 118-99 win. The defending champions handed Golden State its fourth loss in five games.
Here are three takeaways from Golden State’s dud.
The Warriors really, really missed Draymond Green (left calf) in Milwaukee. They miss him every game he misses, but especially games where Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the floor.
Antetokounmpo was everywhere all game. Nobody on the Warriors could stop him.
He dropped in midrange jumpers, both via jab-steps and step-backs. He finished inside in transition and the halfcourt; around Andre Iguodala and Nemanja Bjelica, and through everyone else.
He got downhill at-will and lived in the paint. His no-look passes, particularly an early left-handed dish to Grayson Allen in the corner, took GSW’s breath away.
He added outrageous alley-oop finishes just to further degrade Golden State’s spirit.
When the Warriors tried to play zone to slow down the two-time Most Valuable Player, the Bucks picked them apart from the 3-point line. The only successful strategy Golden State found was putting Antetokounmpo on the free throw line, where he went 8-for-12.
Antetokounmpo dominated with 30 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocks in 28 minutes. The Bucks won by 20 when he was on the floor.
Khris Middleton (23 points, 7 assists) and Bobby Portis (20 points, 7 rebounds) also had their way. Especially the latter could’ve had a much different outcome had Green played.
But it was Antetokounmpo who looked like the best player in the world, and the Bucks who looked like a defending champion that needs to be dethroned before betting on anyone else to win the title.
Offensive woes continue
The Warriors scored 38 points in the first half. Thirty-eight.
The Bucks led by more points (39) than the Warriors scored total.
Stephen Curry has scored at least 38 points 83 times in his career, including playoffs. That means he’s outscored his team’s Thursday night halftime output in 9% of his career games.
The Warriors’ 38 first-half point performance is stunning, but it’s not an outlier based on their recent play. Over the last five games, they’re averaging 96.2 points per game — 13.6 points lower than GSW’s season average.
In the last five games, Golden State has posted quarters of 18, 17, 15 and 18.
In the four games before the Bucks loss, GSW was shooting 25.2% from 3. They were averaging 22.8 assists to 15 turnovers per game. In the halfcourt, the Warriors haven’t looked like the Warriors for weeks.
Curry, the engine of Golden State’s offense, is averaging 18 points per game while shooting 10-for-45 (22.2%) from 3 in his last five games. His gravity still matters, but his recent play that’s bordered on fatigued and miscalibrated hasn’t helped. Everything on offense starts with Curry, so when he’s not right, neither is GSW’s offense.
Some of it is Curry’s ongoing shooting slump. Some of it is the lack of Draymond Green’s facilitating. Some of it is Kerr’s preferred label of the midseason blues. Some of it is re-integrating Klay Thompson back. Everything has culminated in some seriously bleh offense.
GPII exits with injury
Gary Payton II got his ninth start of the season, but it lasted just five minutes before his lower back tightened up. It’s unclear exactly when he sustained the injury, but the guard did not return.
Jordan Poole started the second half in Payton II’s place. That lineup, with Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins, is the skeleton for a lineup that could work great for Golden State. On Thursday, the four scorers surrounded Kevon Looney. But when Green returns, Curry, Thompson, Wiggins and Poole could combine to form a lineup that can outscore just about any lineup in the league.
It’s not the Death Lineup — that has Andre Iguodala in Poole’s place for optimal defense — but that “four scorers plus Green” combination could be one to pursue when GSW gets fully healthy.
Losers of four of five now, the Warriors will head to Chicago for the final game of their road trip. They’re expected to be without Green and possibly without Payton II, too now. The January slog may get sloggier.