Is the sky falling in Golden State?
The NBA’s new super team lost its season opener by almost 30 to Greg Popovich’s Tim Duncan-less Spurs squad.
Kevin Durant’s regular season debut as the newest assassin to join the two-time defending Western Conference champs was inauspicious to say the least. He got his numbers, scoring 27 points and pulling a quiet 10 boards, but three words strike me when watching a team that had a record 24-0 start last season get torched by Kawhi Leonard and a finely-tuned Spurs machine.
Chemistry. Chemistry. Chemistry.
The loss doesn’t mean much as far as the 82-game season is concerned. We know Steve Kerr’s dudes are going to win a bunch of games during the regular season. Their firepower alone will lead them to easy wins over most mediocre squads.
Last night, however, gave us a glimpse into the difficult process that Golden State – with seven new players – faces in these upcoming months. Learning how to work together offensively and also becoming in sync defensively. Both were lacking in Durant’s first game.
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It is just the first game, but TNT analyst Charles Barkley felt that it was sample-size enough to expose some of Golden State’s glaring weaknesses as they attempt to reach the franchise’s third-straight NBA Finals.
Golden State, “can’t play defense, they don’t have a bench and they can’t rebound the ball,” said Barkley.
San Antonio beasted Golden State on the boards to a tune of 55-35.
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Barkley isn’t as quick to anoint Golden State as much of the basketball world did when they signed Durant. He also mentioned the losses of Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights as key defensive assets that need to be replaced.
Shaq agreed with Sir Charles and shared some doubt about Golden State’s ability to mesh together in time to win a championship. “It’s going to take while for them to gel,” Shaq said. “And yes they are going to win a lot of games, but will they win the championship?
I mean, these guys aren’t crazy. We do have some recent history to reference that would suggest that this compilation of all-world pill-pushers would struggle a bit at first. When LeBron took his talents to South Beach and formed The Big Three, they lost in the c’hip that first season. It took a full season to mesh the talents of Bron, Wade and Bosh. The same thing happened with LeBron and Cleveland early in the season last year. Fortunately, they had the previous season’s championship run to build on.
All Tuesday night’s game really did was bring some perspective to the situation. The hype and offseason media machine and social media moshpit create their own narratives and ignore the things about basketball that never change. The NBA free agent rush is like a movie and we are watching superheroes change allegiances for ungodly amounts of money. Assuming that Golden State would cakewalk because they have the most All-Stars is selling the technical aspects of basketball very short. It’s selling coaching and strategy and the art of creating a well-rounded roster, short.
Golden State will have its day in the sun. The core of that team is all-time and it’s up to Kerr and the front office to fill in the critical role pieces that will increase the defensive intensity and improve rebounding. They had no answer for Leonard, whose energy and cohesiveness with his squad was no match for Chef Curry, Durant and crew.
They won’t beat Cleveland without being in sync 100 percent. And right now, Golden State is still working that out so they might not be a thing of beauty at first. Hopefully folks can deal with that over these first 15 games. The Warriors can still win it all. It’s just that reality has set in and playing the games are always harder than fantasizing the end result.