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The Warriors’ Championship Glow Is Gone. And Yet …

Earlier than touring to Milwaukee for his or her recreation in opposition to the Bucks on Friday afternoon, the Golden State Warriors spent 4 nights in New York.

Ordinarily, staying within the metropolis could be a pleasant perk for an N.B.A. staff on the highway. However these are strange, challenging times, and the Warriors, in adhering to the league’s coronavirus protocols, didn’t enterprise past their lodge apart from to move to observe and get walloped by the Nets on Tuesday of their season opener at Barclays Heart.

Coach Steve Kerr tried to set an excellent instance for his gamers. On Wednesday night time, he known as his son Nick, one of the team’s lead video coordinators, who was holed up in a close-by room on the staff lodge: Did he need to get collectively to order some room service and watch a recreation on tv?

“And he stated, ‘It’s most likely not a good suggestion,’” Kerr recalled Nick telling him. “And I stated: ‘Oh, yeah. You’re proper.’ Although we’re getting examined and we’re collectively every single day, the extra we could be on our personal, the higher. It’s not a enjoyable method to reside, but it surely’s the sensible factor to do.”

The Warriors’ challenges aren’t distinctive. Each staff is coping with the identical circumstances. However few teams outside of Houston have had a rougher time up to now.

Golden State’s illustrious, not-so-distant past is fading a bit by the day. It’s far too early to make any generalizations or draw any dire conclusions. However: Yikes! Two video games, two blowout losses for a staff that appears sure for a number of extra months of rising pains.

“We have to win,” the Warriors’ Stephen Curry stated after their 138-99 loss to the Bucks. “Instantly.”

It bought so unhealthy for the Warriors on Friday that Antetokounmpo was dunking on them within the fourth quarter — but not Giannis. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the two-time most useful participant’s older brother, bought minutes for the Bucks in rubbish time as their lead mushroomed.

Kerr stated he was most pissed off that the Warriors had been coming off two days of strong observe earlier than they took the courtroom and “didn’t execute a lot of something.”

“We’re simply scattered proper now,” Kerr stated. “Simply looks like we’re a collection of transferring components.”

It has been a nightmare begin for 2 gamers who will go a good distance towards dictating whether or not the Warriors are a playoff staff. Kelly Oubre Jr., whom they acquired in a trade after Klay Thompson was lost to injury for the second straight season, has missed all 11 of his 3-point makes an attempt. And Andrew Wiggins has shot 10 of 34 from the sector to begin his first full season with the Warriors.

“It’ll shake out over time,” Kerr stated. “Kelly might be high quality. Andrew might be high quality. Each guys are confirmed gamers on this league.”

The N.B.A. schedule makers didn’t do the Warriors any favors: two championship contenders on the highway to christen the season, again to again. Earlier than Thompson was misplaced for the season, each video games figured to be marquee matchups. However the Warriors aren’t the identical with out Thompson, which is clear however must be emphasised.

Draymond Inexperienced, the opposite core member of the Warriors’ championship years, has but to make his first look due to a foot harm. On Friday, Inexperienced was in avenue garments and a masks, leaping off the bench to share his wisdom with James Wiseman, the staff’s first-year heart, about defensive positioning. Wiseman has been one of many staff’s brilliant spots, averaging 18.5 factors and seven rebounds whereas taking pictures 50 p.c from the sector. He went 3 of 4 from 3-point vary in opposition to the Bucks.

“The sport is beginning to decelerate for me,” Wiseman stated, which is saying so much contemplating he’s two video games into his profession.

Kerr steered that Inexperienced may very well be within the beginning lineup when the Warriors go to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. And the Bulls are neither the Nets nor the Bucks, so maybe a visit to Chicago will present a extra reasonable measure of the Warriors’ place within the N.B.A. ecosystem this season.

Even so, the primary two video games have supplied a grim reminder that these aren’t the Warriors who made 5 straight journeys to the N.B.A. finals between 2014-15 and 2018-19, coming away with three championships. These aren’t the Warriors who won 24 straight games to begin the 2015-16 season, or finished that season with a 73-9 record — one of the best in N.B.A. historical past.

No, these Warriors have received 15 video games within the 561 days since they last appeared in the finals. Solely 5 gamers stay from that staff. Accidents and roster turnover have taken an infinite toll. Final season, they hobbled to the worst record in the league with out Thompson and Curry (who missed all however 5 video games with a damaged hand).

On Friday, Curry — one of many few threads that ties this staff to its title runs — was requested how he would deal with his youthful teammates.

“This 12 months is completely different,” he stated, “and to not really feel any stress in regards to the Warriors groups of the previous. We clearly have that championship DNA and we perceive there’s expectations round our group, and that’s what we would like. However this 12 months is completely different. It’s a brand new group of men. We’d like to have performed higher over these final two video games, however that’s not going to outline our season.”

There may be some trigger for optimism. The schedule will loosen up. Inexperienced might be in uniform. And Oubre will presumably make a 3-pointer sooner or later within the close to future. There may be additionally the lengthy view: Thompson is rehabbing (once more) in hopes of playing next season.

However proper now, his return feels about as far-off because the staff’s championships do.

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