The Golden State Warriors have made their adjustment to life with Kevin Durant look easy thus far.
But after a 128-119 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, one of the initial concerns about the Warriors’ super-team format was on display.
Late in close games, there appears to be some confusion about what plays to run and who gets to shoot, with so many able-bodied scorers on the floor.
With under a minute remaining against the Grizzlies, up two after blowing a 19-point lead, Stephen Curry attempted a pull-up three-pointer that missed. Klay Thompson got the offensive rebound and kicked it back out. At mid-court, Curry and Kevin Durant had an awkward exchange, debating who should get the ball. Curry, looking somewhat exasperated, gave the ball up to Durant and retreated to the wing.
Durant then isolated, ignored a half-hearted screen from Curry, and missed his own pull-up three. Draymond Green was not pleased afterward.
Green and Durant then had a passionate exchange on the bench.
The Grizzlies tied the game on the next possession and won it in overtime.
While it’s not a sky-is-falling moment for the Warriors, it’s illustrative of the ball-sharing problems many people expected to see from the team early in the season.
After the game, Green railed against the Warriors’ fourth-quarter offence, saying he’s “thrilled” they lost the game.
“Our fourth-quarter offence has been atrocious. … I’m actually happy we lost today, because there are some things we need to correct in order to win a championship. And that’s our goal. Trying to win every regular season game, it really don’t matter. I wanna see us get better every single time we step on the floor, and I don’t feel like that’s been happening for the things that we need to get better at. So, I’m kind of thrilled that we lost.”
Green then pointed to games the Warriors have won and lost where their fourth-quarter offence was “atrocious.”
Durant said his exchange with Green, while it looked heated, was not that intense. He said Green was upset with him from going away from the pick-and-roll, but did not say anything about the shot.
Curry, asked about the somewhat awkward exchange with Durant at the beginning of the play, said (via ESPN):
“It was kind of a, just lollygagging into it. Obviously KD takes that shot, he makes it, things are a little different. … If we executed with force, knowing what we wanted to get out of the possession, everybody’s on the same page, it might look a little different. The timing wasn’t great at all and I think there was a little bit of uncertainty as to what we were trying to get out of the possession.”
The Warriors have often been able to win on talent alone this season, but that talent has overshadowed some underlying issues, such as the one that showed up Friday night. The Warriors have adjusted to the addition an MVP-level scorer in Durant surprisingly quickly, but the loss showed what many expected to happen — some debate about “whose team it is.”
Ultimately, the Warriors need not designate Curry or Durant or Thompson as the go-to scorer at the end of games, but as the Miami Heat discovered with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, system needs to trump individual talent.
The Warriors will iron out these issues, but for this to happen in the 37th game of the season suggests there’s still more work to be done.
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