(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Weekly Dish
by Brian Witt
The Warriors added three wins to their total last week, but they're still searching for themselves.
For the week of Monday, Oct. 30 – Sunday, Nov. 5
On the whole, it was a positive week for the Warriors, but it didn't end the way they would have liked. Following three-straight victories over the Mavericks, Raptors and Wizards to begin the week, the Dubs concluded their homestand with a disappointing loss to the Pistons – a game they lead by 14 midway through the third quarter – in which the same issues that have plagued the reigning NBA champs throughout the early part of the season reared their ugly head once more.
The Warriors had their best shooting game of the season on Sunday, knocking in 57.1 percent of their attempts from the field against the Pistons. And yet, they lost. Golden State leads the NBA in scoring, offensive rating and team field goal percentage. And yet, they're currently 4-3. So, what gives?
The Dubs' collective performance in the other main fundamentals of the game – namely defense, ball control and rebounding – has not been up to the level we've grown accustomed to seeing from them, nor their own lofty standards.
For instance, one doesn't have to look further than the turnover column in Golden State's box scores to identify what's currently ailing the team. The Warriors committed 26 turnovers on Sunday, their most in a single game since turning the ball over 26 times in a 107-95 loss to the Suns on November 9, 2014. The Dubs have now committed at least 16 turnovers in every game this season, and their season average of 18.4 turnovers per game ranks third worst in the NBA.
When asked about the turnover problem following Sunday's defeat, Steve Kerr insisted it's due more to a mental hurdle than anything else:
"We've had 16 or more turnovers in every single one of our games this year," Kerr said. "At some point, the ball just has to matter. The game has to matter enough for us to win. Teams are coming after us every single night and we know that. We are getting everybody's best shot and if you don't match that type of energy and play with some intelligence and some discipline you are not going to win."
This is the NBA, and thus far through the early portion of the season, the Warriors have received a healthy reminder of just how hard it is to win in this league. Yes, Golden State will have a talent advantage almost every night, but it takes more than that alone to win. And the Warriors, who have won two NBA championships and made three-straight Finals in the last three years, know that as well as anyone.
And because of that collection of experience, the Dubs recognize they have areas of concern that they need to address, but they're also not overreacting. It is still October, after all.
"I think you just understand that we're really close to being ourselves," Stephen Curry said following the loss to the Pistons. "It's not like we're missing shots, our defense is kind of hit or miss, but for the most part like you said, those little things are keeping us from really opening up the gates...I think the good thing is every night is something different...So, we just got to put the whole formula together at some point, because we don't want to be learning lessons the hard way as we go through the season."
Learning lessons the hard way is rarely enjoyable, but often necessary so as to deter the prospect of repeat mistakes. The kind of defeat the Dubs suffered on Sunday certainly wasn't enjoyable for them, but if they learned their lesson from it, it might be just what they need to get back to being ‘themselves'.
Standout Spotlight: Klay Thompson
First things first: Klay Thompson had a good week on the court. He averaged 22.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting 55.1 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from three-point range. It was the continuation of a steady, productive start to the season for Thompson, who now leads the NBA with 26 made three-pointers.
"I think Klay's been our most consistent player this year," Kerr said prior to Sunday's game. "We've been able to rely on him every single night on both ends. He's shooting the ball incredibly well. He's guarding the toughest player with the ball...He's been our best box-out guy on a consistent basis...He's been our most consistent performer, night in and night out, and there's no way I would have said that three years ago."
That last bit wasn't intended as a slight. Rather, Kerr was pointing to the growth Thompson has exhibited over the last several years, which has everything to do with why he's in the Spotlight this week. He deserves this acknowledgement for how he utilized his on-court performance to make a splash off of it.
Warriors fans around the country are well aware of the devastation caused by the recent wildfires that have ravaged Northern California. As a fellow Bay Area resident, Thompson felt compelled to assist in the recovery efforts, and did so by pledging $1,000 in aid for every point he scored during Golden State's now-completed three-game homestand. After totaling 22 and 18 points against the Raptors and Wizards, respectively, Thompson added another 29 points on Sunday for a grand total of $69,000 in individual contributions. As of the writing of this column, matching contributions from the public have driven that total to nearly $340,000 for North Bay fire relief.
"I love that he's doing that on his own," Kerr said of Thompson's fundraising. "It shows how much he cares, how much he's matured over the years, that this was something that he came up with and is going for it...I'm proud of him, just like I'm proud of all of our guys. They do a lot of work in the community. They care. It's very meaningful."
Some baskets count more than others. Thompson's actions this past week are proof of exactly that.
The Week Ahead:
Everything evens out over the course of the season, and after a three-game homestand last week, a slate of three road games awaits the Warriors in the week ahead. First up, the Dubs will look to bounce back on Monday when they take on the Clippers in L.A. on the second night of a back-to-back. Golden State was 13-4 in the second game of a back-to-back set last year, but lost their only such occurrence so far this season. Following their quick trip to Southern California, the Dubs will head to San Antonio for their first of four matchups with the Spurs this season on Thursday, which will represent their first encounter since Golden State swept San Antonio out of the 2017 Western Conference Finals in four games. After that, the Warriors will finish off their week and road trip with a matchup against the Nuggets in Denver on Saturday night.
Till next week.