OKLAHOMA CITY — Every so often you'll hear a story about a naked hotel guest who somehow managed to get locked out of his room.
That suddenly is the Golden State Warriors, standing in the hallway stripped of all that made them look positively invincible during a historic regular season, shivering and shrinking in the moment.
The crisp, smart passing?
The swarming opportunistic defense?
The bombs-away offense? The poise? The swagger?
Gone. Gone. Gone.
This team is outplaying us right now and we've got to come up with some answers.
– Warriors coach Steve Kerr
After stem-to-stern back-to-back thumpings by 28 and 24 points, the defending champs are a dribbling version of the Joad family, leaving Oklahoma and bound for California seeking salvation.
Down 3-1 now in the Western Conference finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors can only hope Oracle Arena is where their grapes of wrath are stored.
"I thought we came out and played timid at the start," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "This team is outplaying us right now and we've got to come up with some answers."
Not to mention their dignity.
It is one thing to be beaten. It is quite another to be completely disassembled, piece by piece, until you're not quite sure how it's all supposed to fit back together.
"I'm very surprised," said guard Klay Thompson. "I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't."
In losing two games in a row for the first time all season, Golden State was unable to throw a rope around the transcendent pair of Russell Westbrook andKevin Durant or any other member of the OKC lineup for that matter. The Warriors couldn't stop the Thunder from going on scoring runs that kept breaking the game wide open again any time they got within shouting distance. They couldn't prevent the aggressive Thunder from getting repeated chances to score by again dominating the offensive boards. For the second straight game OKC rang up a 72-point first half.
At the other end, the Warriors have looked like anything but the downhill rolling offensive machine that flattened the NBA from October until last week. The two-time Kia MVP, Stephen Curry, scored just 19 points on 6-for-20 shooting and went 2-for-10 on 3-pointers, looking at different times listless, careless and helpless. He missed jump shots and begged the referees to help him out with calls. He got to the rim several times and couldn't finish.
"He's not injured," Kerr said. "He just had a lousy night."
Thompson had just one solid quarter, the third, when he scored 19 of his 26 points.
I bring energy to this team and I have not been there. Our energy goes as my energy goes and I've been awful.
– Warriors forward Draymond Green
But for all their troubles, the "Splash Brothers" couldn't touch forwardDraymond Green for frustration and nonperformance. After becoming Public Enemy No. 1 in OKC for his kick down under to Kiwi center Steven Adams in Game 3 and not getting suspended by the league office, Green was drowned in boos all night long. That actually could have had less to do with his role as villain than for Green's uninspired performance. He followed up a plus-minus stat of -43 in Game 3 with a -30 in Game 4 and had six of the Warriors' 21 turnovers.
"Like I've said before, I bring energy to this team and I have not been there," Green said. "Our energy goes as my energy goes and I've been awful. That's pretty much what it was."
"I'm sure that was a stressful 48 hours for him, not knowing what the decision's going to be and dealing with those emotions," Curry said. "He talked to some of the guys in the locker room afterwards about how he was feeling and you don't need to worry about him going into the next game."
But the Warriors do have to worry about the rolling wall of Thunder confidence they have allowed to build up and take such a commanding lead in the series. Despite all that they say, this is not like last season's playoff run. That's when they face 2-1 deficits in series to both the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers and came back to win. These are not the offensively-challenged Grizzlies or the physically-impaired Cavaliers from a year ago.
Get beat by the Thunder and the door will again be cracked open for the questions about the 2015 championship run having been a yellow brick road of sorts.
But to even avoid getting dismissed losing three straight and go out in five, the Warriors are going to have to plug holes and bail water against a team that right now looks stronger, longer, faster, more athletic and simply better at virtually every position on the floor.
Even the Warriors' so-called "Lineup of Death" where they play small and fast and lethal has been turned on its head with OKC coach Billy Donovan going to a small lineup of his own that has swallowed up everything in huge gulps. Speed-for-speed, thrust-for-thrust, the Thunder have placed a hand around the throat of the Warriors and are shaking them like rag dolls.
The length of all the Thunder players has choked off the Golden State offense and the sheer force of their will has the Warriors in a constant state of bewilderment, if not retreat, and now they've been backed up to the edge.
"We go home, lick our wounds a little bit," Kerr said. "The idea is to take it one step at a time ... and we'll see where it all goes."
Only that embarrassing "click" of the door in the hallway could leave the Warriors feeling more exposed.