“We cannot give in to this losing spirit.” Those are the words of Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry, the leader of the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed (for now) and one of the NBA’s premier franchises.
Of course, Golden State used to be the No. 2 team in the west. But that was before losing eight of its last 10 games, including a loss to the Lakers on Saturday. That defeat amounted to a gut punch from an underachieving LA team that’s been the NBA’s punching bag recently in its own right.
Postgame, Curry said that the Warriors have indeed been giving in to a losing mentality lately. As in the “oh no, here we go again, here comes the loss” type mentality when the going gets rough. That’s a stunning admission from Curry, but it’s not surprising. The team looks lost lately, getting blasted by teams that bring top effort that Golden State simply can’t match or find counters to.
Here’s more of what Curry said, courtesy of The Athletic.
“(We’ve been) giving in to losing mentality,” Curry said. “We’re not that team. I’m not gonna let us be that team. We know — we’ve shown — who we are in terms of how we started the season. I feel like we can obviously get back to that. That’s the confidence that has to remain. But we cannot give in to this losing spirit of just finding different ways to lose basketball games. The clock will tick out on you and have you going into the summer thinking what could’ve been, should’ve been, having regrets. I don’t want to let us get into that vibe. We have 18 games left. We gotta figure out how to turn things around pretty quick.”The Athletic
That’s some unusually revealing talk from Curry. He knows what the losing mentality is from his early days with the Warriors, so this amounts to a red alert of sorts for Golden State.
Of course, a lot of this slide has to do with the absence of forward Draymond Green and the slow, uneven return of G Klay Thompson. When Green first left the lineup, the Warriors struggled initially before winning nine straight games without Green. Since then, Golden State’s defense has finally slipped without its former NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
I think that nine-game winning streak gave everyone on the team — coach Steve Kerr included — a false sense of security. It seemed the team could do no wrong. But as the Warriors relaxed, their opponents’ effort shot through the roof.
The results have been ugly, with the Warriors losing in a variety of ways, adding to that losing spirit. Perhaps losing the No. 2 seed to the Grizzlies will snap them out of it. They have a tangible goal now, as opposed to simply trying to maintain that second spot. Though Curry also said he doesn’t care about seeding, only how well the Warriors are playing as they hit the playoffs, the No. 2 seed has immense value, especially with Golden State’s relative struggles against the Grizzlies over the last two seasons.
Lurking in the background is Green’s health. Back issues often take an especially long time to heal. All Thompson needs to get back to form is consistent minutes, I believe, and he’ll get that down the stretch. The bottom line, however, is that the team can’t take anything for granted. When things are too good to be true, they usually are, and that’s where the Warriors find themselves.
In the short term, the defense has to be better — more effort — and Curry and Thompson have to get hot on offense. Long term, everybody has to play a lot better and not let go of the rope — or give up on their championship aspirations. Curry says he won’t let them, and he’s got to lead down the stretch as perhaps he’s never had to before.