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Warriors out of step again on road, fall to 0-4 in Game 3s

Kerr frustrated with team's 'soft' performance, 'didn't see it coming'

POSTED: Jun 9, 2016 8:12 AM ET

By Fran Blinebury

BY Fran Blinebury


Warriors React to Game 3 Loss

Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson address the media following a game 3 loss to the Cavaliers.

— By now you might think the Golden State Warriors would see them coming.

The dips in the road, the things that go bump in the night, those funnel clouds that loom on the horizon.

Their own reflection in the mirror.

For the fourth time in four rounds of the playoffs, the Warriors lifted their foot off the pedal in Game 3 of a series and it ran them into a ditch, this time a 120-90 defeat at Quicken Loans Arena.

You can talk about Xs and Os, tweaks to the lineup or defensive match-ups. But the truth is more brutal, more basic.

"We weren't ready to play," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "Obviously they just punched us in the mouth right in the beginning. We're turning the ball over like crazy.

"Soft. We were extremely soft to start the game and then they set the tone with their intensity. I think it was 9-0 and we had to call a timeout. Steph (Curry) got beat backdoor, couple of turnovers. Just a horrible way to start."

Changes in latitude have brought changes in attitude in every round of the playoffs and actually it's gotten progressively worse. The Warriors lost Game 3 to the Houston Rockets by one, the Portland Trail Blazers by 12, the Oklahoma City Thunder by 28 and now the Cleveland Cavaliers by a whopping 30.

They were hardly the same team that hammered Cleveland by a combined 48 points in the first two games of series. You could see it in the way they didn't try to attack the basket, didn't make their passes sharp, didn't go hungrily to the backboards and did not get down onto the floor for each loose ball with the Cavs.

We weren't tough enough. We weren't strong enough with the ball. We were soft.

– Steve Kerr on Warriors' Game 3 performance

The Warriors were trying to dance to completely different music. While Kyrie Irving was thrashing to 16 first quarter points and Tristan Thompson has head-banging in the paint and on the offensive boards and the previously missing J.R. Smith was cutting a rug, Golden State looked a bunch that only came expecting a waltz to a second straight championship.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and the whole Warriors buzzsaw that spent the previous two days saying they would not take the Cavaliers lightly did just that.

"I didn't see it coming," Kerr said. "We talked about it. We talked about how Cleveland was going to come out on their home floor, being down 2-0. We talked about all that stuff. I was very hopeful and I was expecting that our team would play much better. But we didn't, so I didn't have them ready."

It was another game when the Splash Brothers were a dry hole. Curry didn't score his first bucket until deep into the second quarter and finish with just 19 points on 6-for-13. Thompson had 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting. Together the best pair of shooters in the game were 4-for-16 from behind the 3-point line.

But the Warriors still swept to wins in the first two games of the series because there were others that picked up the offensive slack and, more important, because they competed harder, smarter and more relentlessly at both ends of the court. The Golden State defense that took deep bites out of the Cavs in Games 1 and 2 was toothless.

For all the history and the hullaballoo they've created in the record-breaking 73-9 regular season and the stirring comeback from out of a 3-1 hole in the Western Conference finals against Oklahoma City, the one nagging thing about the Warriors has been these kinds of games, these kinds of losses when they just don't seem to show up mentally.

"I mean, I don't know," Thompson said. "I know it didn't go right tonight, but it's hard to reflect on all the times we got blown out. I think most of it's just energy, just matching that team's energy. They were hungrier than us tonight. There's no excuse for us. But that's all it is. I know we're not going to make every shot, obviously. We're going to have bad turnovers. But if we play with great energy and effort, we won't see another 30-point loss like this."

Of course, if they do, a series that everybody was predicting would end in a sweep 24 hours earlier could find them up to the their necks in the deep end of the pool again.

"The playoffs are hard," said Curry. "It's a tough grind to win a championship, and we understand that and we obviously want to play perfect basketball, we want to win every game, but it doesn't happen that way. But we hope that the better team will show throughout the course of the series and that's our mindset. We would have loved to have been up 3-0 and have a chance to win it on Friday. Doesn't go our way. How we bounce back on Friday will show our heart and our kind of soul about winning."

The Warriors were dominated on the backboards 52-32. They were outscored in the paint 54-32. They allowed 17 offensive rebounds and 23 second chance points. They gave up 18 turnovers that led to 34 Cleveland points.

"We weren't tough enough," Kerr said. "We weren't strong enough with the ball. We were soft. And when you're soft you get beat on the glass and you turn the ball over. Those are the telltale signs. So we can't be soft in Game 4 if we want to win."

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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