Week 5 was not much nicer than week 4 for the Warriors and from the looks of this week's schedule, the Warriors chilly holiday will continue to lack any cheer. Even with the return of David Lee, who I mentioned last week was statistically responsible for how well Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry can play, has had an impact, but appears to be still finding his rhythm and possibly the strength in that left arm [insert your own Twilight or Walking Dead reference].
Since starting the season 6-2, the Warriors have since dropped 10 of their last 12. After staying up last week at 9th in SB Nation's 2010-2011 NBA Western Conference rankings, you can bet that the Warriors 0-3 stinker last week and the Memphis Grizzlies recent surge will push Golden State down to either the "Lost Somewhere In The Neighborhood" or "Asleep In A Dumpster" areas = Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers territory. But at least the Clippers have awesome Blake Griffin highlights to look forward to.
Losing David Lee and the contingent "chemistry building" rhetoric are excuses no more as the Warriors struggles with rebounding, perimeter defense, transition defense, scoring (or lacktherof), and fouling (and just about anythign else) have become the only consistency that they have shown during their 3 week slide. One of the most jarring statistics is how well their opponents have been shooting and how many free throws their opponents shoot per game. Currently, the Warriors are fouling their opponents 6 more times (24 to 18) per game and are shooting an astonishingly 11 free throws attempts LESS than their opponents per game (20 to 31). Worse yet, the Warriors opponents are making nearly 81% from the foul line to the Warriors measly 74%. What does this actually mean? The Warriors opponents so far have MADE 200 more free throws than the Warriors, which translates into 10 MORE points per game.
The Warriors struggles began with the Spurs making 16 more free throws against them last Sunday en route to a 118-98 victory. The Warriors also lost in the points in transition differential (-7). Stephen Curry got his groove back, but the Spurs backcourt (starters and reserves) torched the Warriors on both ends of the floor (see Manu Ginobili's NBA Jam-like stat-line). Phoenix Suns narrowly beat the Warriors, shooting 55%from the field and making 11 more free throws than the Warriors. The margin? 107-101 defeat. Oh yea, and the Suns scored 10 more points in transition. Beginning to the see the trend, yet? The Warriors closed out their week against the Oklahoma City Thunder in what was not nearly as close -- at all -- to what the score indicated at the end. The Thunder having made 19 more free throws and 13 points MORE points than the Warriors off turnovers, mathematically, shows how easily Golden State is giving it up. This isn't to take anything from teams like the Spurs and the Thunder, whose defense is part of why they've been so dominant over the Warriors from jump.
With three road games this week against the #3 Dallas Mavericks, #1 San Antonio Spurs, and #5 Miami Heat, the Warriors plummet seems imminent. The Warriors may have had the Mavericks number before and the Heat may have struggled, but you could probably chalk up any future losses this week to free throws and turnovers.
On the bright side, at least Monta Ellis and Curry combined for 68 points versus the Thunder. All eyes should be on Lee this week to see whether he can improve on return from injury.