The defending champion Golden State Warriors are struggling on defense so far. Although it’s early, in a competitive West their slow start may hurt them later.
The Warriors dropped their season opener at home to the Houston Rockets 122-121. This, after being up by as many as 17 points and with Chris Paul sitting for the fourth quarter.
Draymond Green left the game late in the third due to a sore knee, and with him went Golden State’s defensive tenacity.
Kevin Durant hit what would have been the game-winning jumper with the clock winding down but after review his shot was waived off because he didn’t release it in time.
Because they usually do, the Warriors were expected to bounce back from the loss; they did–barely.
Golden State narrowly beat the New Orleans Pelicans in their second game this season 128-120, again giving up too many points to the opposition.
Saturday night the Warriors lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 111-101. To make matters worse Stephen Curry was ejected after throwing his mouth guard toward a referee in protest of a ticky-tack foul call he didn’t receive. Immediately after that Kevin Durant was ejected.
Durant and Curry both get ejected while the Warriors fall to 1-2 pic.twitter.com/J2gqt8fEf6
— NBAFL⚡️SH (@TheNBAFlash) October 22, 2017
Golden State’s stars showing some early-season emotion isn’t a big issue. What is an issue, however, is the Warriors’ defensive effort or lack thereof to start the season.
Houston is a high-scoring team but Golden State got careless in the fourth quarter and let a game slip away.
Then they gave up 120 points to the Pelicans after a loss where in the past they’d clamp down on D after an L.
But losing to the Grizzlies, a notoriously defensive team that has a hard time scoring is a low–even this early in the season.
Unlike other teams in the Western conference that underwent serious makeovers this offseason, the Warriors essentially brought back their entire championship team. The only new pieces they’re playing with so far are Nick Young and rookie Jordan Bell so they don’t have much to figure out or get used to.
What Golden State needs to figure out are their problems on defense, and they need to figure them out now.
Because the season just started so there’s no need to panic; the Warriors are still good and still favorites to win the title. But the competition in the West is so heavy this year, that the difference between the top four seeds will likely come down to a game or two.
Starting off 1-2 is no big deal now but if Golden State doesn’t correct themselves soon they may be out as a No.1 seed for the first time in four years, and they might find themselves playing without home court advantage late in the playoffs.