The Golden State Warriors tipped off their four-game roadie on Tuesday by squaring off with the up-and-coming Timberwolves. And, well, to say that they didn’t get off on the right foot doesn’t quite capture what transpired.
Stephen Curry and Co. failed to match Minnesota’s intensity and execution in the contest, standing idly by as their opponent shot 52.8% from the field and drained 16 threes. As a result, they lost by 15 points at Target Center; it was their sixth setback in eight games.
Clearly, the Warriors once again missed the presence of injured All-Star Draymond Green. Without him, the team has looked disconnected at times on offense and struggled defensively. Against the Wolves, big man Karl-Anthony Towns was allowed to run wild, scoring 39 points and hitting three triples.
Although Green won’t be back on the court when the Warriors look to right the ship against the Mavericks on Thursday, he will be there to provide a much-needed emotional boost.
Draymond Heading to the Big D
As relayed by The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Green — who hasn’t always been around since he’s been shelved — will be with the returning Klay Thompson as he travels to Dallas.
“Green is joining [Thompson] on that flight,” he wrote. “Green has spent most of his rehab disconnected from the team, especially on game nights. After the All-Star break, he stayed on vacation an extra couple of days while the team reconvened in Portland. Green recently returned for a practice, and players and coaches commented on the emotional lift he provided.”
Slater further noted that the team wants to see a lot more of Green during this challenging time.
“There has been an internal push to bring him around more often, get him on the bench instructing players and demanding accountability,” he added. “The hope, beginning in Dallas, is Green’s presence could help, bringing more of a playoff seriousness to the stretch run.”
In the end, though, Golden State really just needs Green back on the hardwood.
“Many of these exposed Warriors flaws can’t and won’t be corrected until he’s back on the court.”
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Warriors in Danger of Dropping in the Standings
With any luck, Green’s presence alone will help Golden State make the best of its current trip. If the club can’t figure something out on the court, though, it’s in real danger of dropping a spot — or two — in the Western Conference standings.
As of this writing, the No. 3 Grizzlies are just a half-game below the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Jazz — who have won eight of their last 10 contests — are four games back at No. 4. Moreover, eight of Memphis’ next nine games will be played against sub-.500 competition. For Utah, it’s six of its next seven.
In the end, getting their players back and ready for the playoffs is probably more important than winning each individual game. However, if the team’s backslide continues unabated, that postseason path may become significantly more treacherous.