Have the Warriors lost their sauce without Curry?

Randall Williams | Sports Editor

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Flickr User Roco

It’s been a very interesting year for the reigning NBA champs.

For much of the season, the Golden State Warriors seemed sluggish, almost as if they could not care less about the regular season. Then injuries began to pile up. The team’s big four all sat out multiple games at once.

In a sense, this didn’t really matter, as NBA analysts all agreed that if the team could be ready come playoff time, they’d have nothing to worry about. On March 23, all of that changed. Steph Curry made his return from his ankle sprain, and late in the third quarter, Javale McGee awkwardly fell into Curry’s right knee. Curry immediately limped away, grimacing in pain. After a couple of days, the team diagnosed their starting guard with a grade 2 MCL sprain, an injury that could keep him out three to four weeks.

What Curry brings to the floor for his team is incomparable. He’s able to spread out the opposition’s defense to not only create opportunities for himself but his teammates, too. Still, without their main man, the Warriors were still in good shape. Having Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is as good as a trio as anyone’s — at least, that’s what was thought. Since Curry went out again, the team has been a lackluster 4-6. Three of those four wins came against the bottom-feeders of the league.

Their one win that helped keep fans’ hopes alive was against a rival Oklahoma City Thunder team, an opponent that was constructed to tear down the Warriors. In their first two meetings, it looked like the Thunder could do it. OKC crushed Golden State with an average margin of victory of 18.5 points. In the third meeting, the Warriors used a third quarter run to bully their way to a win.

However, even with that win on their resume, things didn’t change. They continued to lose to teams that they shouldn’t such as the Pacers by 20, and even a 40-point beat-down by the Utah Jazz.

To many, it just doesn’t add up. The Warriors have the second-best player in the league, one of the best defenders and a top-two shooter. Along with this, the Warriors have found a valuable piece in Quinn Cook, who has stepped up in a tremendous fashion in Curry’s absence.

Last year, similar circumstances hit. Durant went out with an injury to his leg, but the exact opposite happened. Golden State used it as motivation to go on its longest winning streak of the season. So why hasn’t the same thing happened this year?

Stephen A. Smith and other NBA anaylsts have called out Durant to show up and take the lead.

“If [you’re] KD, nobody else should be a problem outside of Houston,” Smith said on ESPN.

It’s not just the reporters, though. Fans agree, too.

Hamptonian Cameron Austin said, “KD can’t be the best player in the world if he can’t carry his team. LeBron has been doing it for years now.”

Austin continued, “I think this all but solidifies the argument of who the best player in the world is.”

What’s crazy is, things have seemed to work out for Golden State. Out of all the teams they could have played in the first round, they ended up facing the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs, a team they can easily sweep. You can’t ever count out any team coached by Gregg Popovich, but at the end of the day, the Warriors are the overwhelming favorite.

A four-game sweep would mean a lot to the Bay area team. They wouldn’t just build momentum, they’d also get much needed rest before facing either the Pelicans or Trail Blazers, two noteworthy opponents.

Either way, they’ll most likely need Curry for the semifinals, and definitely for the conference finals. The Rockets look to be unstoppable, and there is absolutely no way the Warriors can take out Houston without their most important player.

So the question that has arisen now is: How long can the Warriors survive without Curry?

Golden State Warriors: The Champions Slowing Down & Competition Speeding Up?

Isaiah Spencer | Staff Writer

This current era of the Golden State Warriors has been one of the most, if not, the most dominant NBA basketball team in history. With a record-setting 73-9 record in 2015, and a 9-time All Star being a new addition to the team following year, the Golden State Warriors are the most feared team in basketball today.

The Warriors have faced some struggles within the past couple of weeks with games they’ve should have won. On Jan. 3, a 30-point loss to the Utah Jazz was the worst defeat they received all season. The Warriors shot 33 percent on 20-of-60 from the field. This was their second-worst game of the season, statistically. Only a loss from the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 23rd was worse.

“We just didn’t start out the game with any force defensively…We played with no sense of urgency, no sense of purpose and they’re obviously fighting for the playoffs,” Warriors coach Steve told NBA reporters.

In the past 10 games, the Warriors were 6-4, which is rare for them, considering they usually have one or two losses within a 10-game span.

The Utah Jazz were their first loss within that span, and the Denver Nuggets their second. It was another highly favored game to win for the Warriors, which resulted in a 7-point loss on Feb. 3.

“The whole fourth quarter was rough,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who had 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting. “50/50 balls go (the) other way. It was tough to get in any kind of rhythm or flow.”

Many expected the Warriors to step their game up when they played the elite Oklahoma City Thunder, but this was no different. With the Thunder having the reigning MVP and two new elite players this season, they are always expected to put up a fight no matter who they play.

Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined for 72 points. The Warriors entered that game having gone 11-0 in games following a loss.

Golden State’s most recent game came against the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 14. Despite Kevin Durant’s 50-point performance, Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers were able to snap the Warriors’ seven-game win streak over Portland.

“It might be our best win [of the season] as far as the quality of the opponent,” Lillard said.

It’s clear that the Warriors are not in their normal state of winning. The reigning Western Conference champs have a huge target on their back going into All-Star weekend.

The Golden State Warriors must determine if their game plan is slowing down or if the new competition is finally learning how to adjust to their style of play.

With the All-Star break, the Warriors had a week and a half to analyze their next moves and improve on their final 24 games.