The Warriors are thinking playoffs in 2012-13, and the reality is that they have every right to think that. On paper, their team is as talented and as deep as the Warriors team of 2007-08, when they followed up on We Believe with a 48-win season.The Warriors roster is more balanced than it has been in the recent past, and their coaching staff has had a year together. But if the Warriors are to make the postseason and break a five-year drought theyre going to have to overcome some challenges.Here are five of the biggest issues heading into the season for the Warriors:1. Andrew Boguts health: Far and away, the single-biggest key to whether the Warriors will be successful in 2012-13 is the health of center Andrew Bogut. For the Warriors to break through and make the playoffs, Bogut must be both healthy and effective.Over the past four seasons, Bogut has played in just 182 of a possible 312 games or 58.3 percent. What the Warriors need most is for Bogut to put together a 70-plus game season. And Priority 1A is for Bogut to resemble the player he once was which was one of the better centers in the NBA.At his best, Bogut has the potential to be an impact player up front for the Warriors. He has the ability to rebound, block shots and score a little bit. He also has a solid understanding of the game and is one of the leagues best passing big men.Perhaps most important, the Warriors need Bogut to be healthy because they dont have anybody behind him capable of being counted on at this stage. Andris Biedrins is coming off back-to-back ineffectual seasons, and it seems like a stretch to expect anything positive out of him for long stretches.The Warriors are hoping rookie Festus Ezeli can help at the five-spot, but hes likely a ways away from contributing consistently. The reality is that if you take a good, hard look at the Warriors roster, its tough to see them staying competitive for the long haul if Bogut isnt around for just about all of it.
2) Stephen Curry's health (coming Tuesday night)
3) Coach Mark Jackson (coming Wednesday morning)
4) Toughness (coming Wednesday afternoon)
5) Intangibles (coming Wednesday evening)
The Golden State Warriors wasted no time dismissing one of the 95 Narratives for this season – namely, the one that has them gunning secretly for 82 wins.
In a game very reminiscent of last January’s 120-90 win over San Antonio, the Warriors played the role of “90,” or to be more specific, “100” in a richly deserved 129-100 mauling. They provided a fiercely anticipatory and Beyonce/Jay-Z-enriched crowd everything they came to see – in the Spurs.
Kevin Durant? Did swell. Won a lot of hearts. Draymond Green? Had bursts of good and moments of not. Stephen Curry? Numbers but not a lot of impact. Klay Thompson? Didn’t shoot well, and didn’t do much else to mitigate that fact.
But the real failures came not from the individual components but the sum of their parts. A disrhythmic offense that highlight moments obscured too infrequently, an undistinguished defensive effort across the board, no bench presence of any kind, a casual attitude toward possessions in general and an almost dogmatic refusal to engage in rebounding skirmishes – in sum, they exhibited a severe pre-title hangover nine months before the fact.
So with all that as prelude, coach Steve Kerr attacked the media horde with a squinty-eyed “Anyone got any good jokes?”
And knowing that nobody did – at least none better than the game that had just been concluded -- he got down to the duties of the postgame presser. He broke the ice with the throwaway platitude (“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously”), the dismissive swat (“I think they were embarrassed tonight. I know I was”), the quick nuts-and-bolts analysis (“We missed easy shots, didn’t get a lot of loose balls, second efforts, third efforts, and we didn’t play with much physicality”), said the collective performance was massively inadequate at best (“’Strength In Numbers,’ it’s got to be about the group”), and the one dagger that will be the emphasis of Wednesday’s unpleasantness (“We didn’t really look engaged, like we were taking for granted that things were going to go well”).
Which brings us to the box score, where the locals were outrebounded, 54-35 (20-8 on the offensive end), outscored on second chances (24-4), and crushed by the non-starters (54-16 points, 24-6 rebounds). Durant had a less effective game than Kawhi Leonard, Green had a less impactful game than LaMarcus Aldridge, and Curry and Thompson were not as dynamic as second-year shooting guard Jonathon Simmons, local deadeye Patty Mills and the forever-young Manu Ginobili.
In short, it was not a coming-out party for the new dynasty, but a reminder that this is not last year, or the year before, and the Warriors are not nearly the finished product they seemed to present in 2014-5 or 15-6.
Their rotation is still a work in progress, and their combinations are even further away still. Kerr has been saying as much all summer and fall, and logic supports the fact that all teams take time to coalesce.
This is not to say they are going to be minus-29 bad; that would be, well, typical morning-after media analysis, for all fetid air that is worth.
But tonight was a good bucket full of icy well water to everyone’s sensibilities. Just as a year ago, the Warriors have been crowned champions by far too many amateurs before the rite of succession has even begun, and Kerr just received all the fodder he needs to drive home an early-season rebuttal to the ones most in need of hearing it: His players.
As for anyone else who needs to hear such a lesson – well, narratives don’t die that easily. The Warriors are the most covered team in NBA history (imagine the Bird Celtics or the Showtime Lakers in this era), and their failures will resound as much as their triumphs, and it’s all background noise come April 15.
You know, when the season actually starts.
OAKLAND – Kevin Durant’s Warriors debut started in spectacular fashion, making his first four shots, before he and his teammates faded in a 129-100 loss to San Antonio Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.
Durant scored the team’s first bucket, a turnaround jumper 65 seconds after tipoff. He later added a step-back jumper, a fadeaway and a pull-up 3-pointer to end the quarter with 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
He also blocked two shots in the quarter.
That was as good as it got for Durant and the Warriors.
Durant finished with a team-high 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 1-of-3 from deep. He added 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and the two blocks.