Golden State fans awaken this morning undoubtedly in a state of shock or disbelief after their Warriors blew a 14-point lead in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. The eventual 108-102 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder has the Warriors trailing in a playoff series for the first time in the 2016 postseason. Perhaps more shocking to Golden State fans, though, is that the reigning Kia MVP, Stephen Curry, couldn’t save the Warriors’ bacon as Game 1 wound down. Marcus Thompson IIof the Bay Area News Group has more one what Curry and the Warriors must do better come Game 2:
There were several moments Monday night that called for Stephen Curry to put on his cape and save the day. There were several times when past practice made you believe the Warriors would turn on the jets.
But Curry never pulled off the magic that he so often does, no matter how hard the home crowd begged. And the Warriors never woke up.
In what has been a rarity this season, Curry didn’t shine the brightest in this meeting of stars. He finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. But it wasn’t enough to cover his seven turnovers, his 1-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter, and his questionable decision making.
In what has been a rarity this season, the Warriors were not the team to get it downe down the stretch. Monday was their first loss to one of the league’s top four teams when fully healthy.
“I do think we lost our poise a little bit,” coach Steve Kerr said, “and that had a lot to do with the quick shots. I think we were trying to rectify the situation in one or two plays instead of letting it play out. So that’s something we’ve got to get better with.”
Is Curry’s right knee an issue, or was it the Warriors’ game plan to use him as they did?
Curry still has pain, he said, but it’s tolerable. It’s not 100 percent, he said, but it’s good enough.
In Game 1, Curry spent a lot of time off the ball. The Thunder responded as other teams have, grabbing and holding Curry away from the sight of the officials. When Curry didn’t get the ball,Draymond Green or Klay Thompson became the one-on-one players.
Late in games, the ball in Curry’s hands might allow him to get a better rhythm and allow him to set up for his teammates. It forces the Thunder to adjust their defense to stop him and could result in him getting some free throws. Curry went to the line only twice in nearly 40 minutes Monday.
“We have to heighten the sense of urgency and heighten the sense of ball possessions and pace and flow,” Andre Iguodala said after scoring six of the bench’s 16 points. “It’s good to get hit in the mouth. That’s when it really shows.”
Was Game 1 a sign that Oklahoma City has found the formula to beat the Warriors?
The Thunder were the Warriors’ toughest foe during the regular season. Even though the Warriors swept OKC, all three games were closely contested. Neither San Antonio, Cleveland, Toronto nor the Los Angeles Clippers could stake such a claim. And Monday, OKC played with a comfort that suggested a feeling of superiority.
The Thunder got better as the game wore on. The Thunder made adjustments, fixed their ills. It was the OKC point guard — not the Warriors’ popint guard — who took charge of the game.
“There were several key (plays) in the second half when we kind of lost our momentum,” Kerr said. “Careless passes. Didn’t have the flow to whatever set we were running. And I thought we lost our aggressiveness and momentum offensively. A lot of that had to do with his speed and aggressiveness.”
Or was this the Warriors not bringing it like normal? Was their demise their own doing? Did the weight of their historic chase finally catch up with them?
In their mind, they played out of character. They failed to live up to their standard.