At the halfway mark of the season, the Warriors are 20-21. They own the league’s worst road record as they embark on a five-game trip.
Golden State has lost three in a row, with defeats coming to the lowly Magic and Pistons, plus the Suns without Chris Paul, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.
The Warriors had been without Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry for significant time, but the defending NBA champions have had serious issues.
Head coach Steve Kerr, joining Tolbert & Copes Wednesday night, shared some of the “bad habits” the team needs to shake to get back on track.
“I’m worried about what aren’t good habits right now,” Kerr said. “Can we turn those bad habits into solid ones? One of those is rebounds. We must’ve missed 10 box-outs last night. And inevitably, what happens is you fight like crazy throughout a defensive possession and then you don’t finish it with a box-out and they get a putback. It just sucks the life out of you. The big guys are down there battling, they hang their heads, they’re looking out at the guards like ‘what are you guys doing? Are you going to take part in any of this?’ So you lose that connection. It’s really the little things that add up.”
In the Suns’ 125-113 win, they out-rebounded GSW by 12. Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins combined for one defensive rebound.
The other habit Kerr said he hopes Golden State will break is their poor spacing. That element is surprising given the Warriors employ Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. GSW ranks first in both 3-pointers made and attempted this year.
“We’ll continue to harp on those things and try to get better with them,” Kerr said. “We’ve got to get there. I’m very confident that we can, because we’ve done it for many, many years with this group. But this year, it’s been harder for a number of reasons.”
Golden State doesn’t have to worry about its passing, as it leads the NBA in assists per game.
Although Kerr didn’t mention it specifically when detailing his team’s bad habits, the Warriors’ effort may be the biggest thing they need to fix on a nightly basis. They’ve ramped it up against teams like the Celtics and Grizzles, but are 0-4 against the Magic and Pistons.
Against the Suns, the Warriors appeared to coast for the first 45 minutes or so before mounting a fiery comeback in the closing minutes. Their late-game effort included full-court pressure against a Phoenix team that had no healthy guards.
Perhaps that moment will be a turning point.
“We really have had moments during the season where it’s like, alright, the switch has to be flipped,” Kerr said. “Now it has to be the time. And we just haven’t responded to that. But last night did feel different in a lot of ways. Like I thought the fourth quarter, even though it was chaotic and frenetic, it was a reminder, like yes: don’t think, just go compete.”
Kerr took responsibility for not getting his team ready to perform against the Suns. Simply competing more consistently should solve many of Golden State’s deficiencies. Effort, after all, is the driving force behind things like boxing out.
Veteran teams, especially ones following championship seasons, have been known to drift in and out of regular seasons.
“When you’re winning, it doesn’t seem that hard to win an NBA game. When you lose a few, you’re reminded just how hard you have to play for 48 minutes, and how many things you have to do to earn a victory. And we’re just not doing enough of those things. That’s been the story all season. That’s why we’re 20-21.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Tolbert & Copes weekdays from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.