The Warriors had a real chance to win on the road on Friday. They didn’t. Sound familiar?
Though shorthanded, Golden State spoiled another one in a 127-119 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta. The Warriors had an early 10 point-lead in the first quarter that dissipated rapidly as their play deteriorated. They spent most of the rest of the game playing catchup, trying to make up for turnovers and poor shooting from the 3-point line. When the finally did at the end of the fourth quarter, they weren’t able to make enough plays to seal the deal.
Draymond Green was out due to suspension for technical fouls, meaning that GS played just a nine-man rotation and had three of their best defensive players — Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II also still out — unavailable. It showed.
Here are 3 takeaways:
Their own worst enemy
If you just watched the first six minutes of Friday’s game, you might have assumed the Warriors were going to set their season-high for points.
Golden State scored 23 points in the first half of the first quarter, shooting over 71% from the field. The Hawks looked defensively inept. Golden State targeted Trae Young early, scoring five of their first six buckets with him as the primary defender. Even when he wasn’t to blame, the most rudimentary offensive sets were leading to wide open shots at the basket.
It seemed like for once, Golden State might actually coast to a win on the road.
Of course, the Warriors invited the Hawks back into the game with seven head-scratching turnovers, nearly all unforced, in the first frame. The giveaways also led to easy buckets for the Hawks who were initially struggling to create good looks. While the Warriors defense has been awful on the road, it was poor offense that was responsible gifting Atlanta easy scoring opportunities early. That continued throughout the game. The Warriors turned the ball over 17 times on Friday, leading to 21 Hawks points. Once Golden State let ATL back into the game, the defensive effort waned as well.
Aside from the turnovers, the Warriors offensive execution was solid. They worked the ball into the paint as much as possible, scoring 68 of their 119 points in that area. But they simply couldn’t turn off the faucet at the other end.
We’ve seen this type of performance so many times this season. This one was even harder to swallow because the Warriors could’ve opened a big lead early and for some reason didn’t.
Working the ball inside
The Warriors are a team that can be too 3-point happy at times, especially on the road. That would have been a major problem on Friday, considering they shot just 27% from beyond the arc. To their credit, they adjusted by working the ball inside.
The Steve Kerr offense isn’t known for utilizing the high pick-and-roll all that much, but it was a highly effective play for Golden State all night, especially when Young was on the floor. It’s a big reason why Kevon Looney finished with 18 points, scoring on a handful of easy dunks as the roll man. He also added 16 rebounds and four blocks in a terrific all-around performance.
Curry also made the adjustment after struggling from 3. He was great attacking the rim, leveraging the defense crowding him from beyond the arc as he does so well. He finished with 31 points despite shooting 4-of-13 from beyond the arc. His poor 3-point shooting numbers were also inflated by having to force a few desperation shots late as GS tried to mount an ill-fated comeback.
Jordan Poole remains a player that needs to do a better job at adjusting to attacking the rim when his shot isn’t falling. He was 2-of-8 from 3 on Friday and shot just four times from inside the arc.
It keeps getting worse
The Warriors have now lost 10 straight games on the road. Their loss to the Hawks is their final road game vs. an Eastern Conference opponent this season. Of the 15 games, they went 3-12. Their only wins were against the Cavaliers, Wizards and Raptors. They are now 7-28 on the road as a whole.
Obviously all of these stats are awful, and actually make it quite an incredible feat that the Warriors currently stand outside the play-in picture. As of writing, Golden State is clinging to the six seed, a half game up on the Timberwolves who are leading the Bulls late.
At 36-35 nothing is certain. The 10 seeded Thunder are just a game-and-a-half back of the Warriors. The 11 seeded Jazz — outside of a postseason spot — are just two games back. Six of Golden State’s last 11 games are on the road. They better win a few of them, or they could be in serious trouble.