- The Golden State Warriors have lost seven of 10 games and have struggled in March.
- The injury bug has hit the Warriors, with their top five players all dealing with ailments to varying degrees.
- With the postseason two weeks away, the Warriors are in an unusually sloppy state and will have to clean up their act when the games start to matter.
Just two weeks remain in the NBA regular season, and the Golden State Warriors are in an unusual spot.
The injury bug has hit the Warriors, and as a result, have dropped three straight and seven of their last ten, locking them into second place in the Western Conference, behind the upstart Houston Rockets.
More concerning is the shape of the Warriors so close to the playoffs. Stephen Curry returned from a troublesome ankle injury and immediately sprained his MCL, keeping him out of at least the first round of the playoffs.
Klay Thompson has been out with a wrist injury but is expected to come back for the playoffs and possibly as soon as this weekend.
Draymond Green has been battling a pelvic contusion and the flu and has been in and out of the lineup in March.
Kevin Durant returned from a rib injury on Thursday, then got ejected in the first half after blowing up on a referee.
Kevin Durant was ejected just before halftime pic.twitter.com/MYh7PmJF8Y
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) March 30, 2018
The ejection was Durant’s fifth, the most in the NBA, and his 14th technical of the season, putting him one behind Green.
Adding to the Warriors’ woes, Andre Iguodala left Thursday’s game with a sore knee.
Collectively, none of the Warriors’ top five players are in perfect shape two weeks from the postseason, putting them in a spot we haven’t seen. Their March numbers have not been great – 18th in offensive rating, 10th in defensive rating, 22nd in turnover percentage (i.e., the eighth-highest in the league) – but much of that is because of the woeful shape of the roster.
“I have to figure out what to do now,” Steve Kerr said the Warriors’ loss on Thursday. “We are struggling right now. We are not playing well.”
Kerr has preached throughout the season that this year would be a tough one for the Warriors after coming off a championship and third straight Finals appearance. The Warriors are dragging as they reach the end of the slog that is the regular season.
They can and will turn it on in the playoffs, but it’s worth wondering how many of the current issues will continue to plague them. Will Curry’s knee keep him from returning to 100%? Will Thompson, Durant, Green, and Iguodala’s bumps and bruises heal?
Likewise, can the Warriors make the needed attitude adjustment? Green’s technical fouls cost the Warriors dearly in the 2016 Finals when he accrued a seventh technical and earned a suspension in the Finals, opening the door for a Cleveland Cavaliers comeback.
Durant on Thursday insisted that his technicals won’t be a problem in the postseason. But the Warriors are among the league-leaders in technicals and ejections, and the intensity of the playoffs doesn’t exactly calm players down.
Unlike the past three years, when the Warriors cruised and dominated in the regular season, they’re struggling right now. Many observers will rightly believe they can flip the switch. The most important question might be how quickly they can do it and if the various ailments prevent them from indeed getting back to their usual level of dominance. If not, the playoffs might be more open than previously believed.