Before the All-Star break the Golden State Warriors had won seven of their last 10, were one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and only a few games out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But after their 125-117 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and a 1-4 record on the road trip thus far, the team's season and state of mind seem to be slipping away.
After the game head coach Keith Smart was livid, screaming at his players about having toughness on the road, getting after the ball tenaciously, and finding a way to win close games. He apparently flew off the handle pretty bad, and deservedly so, Keith couldn't hold in his inner Bobby Knight any longer. Whether or not he's outburst had any affect is not the concern, it's the fact that the players have put themselves into a position to be publicly reprimanded at all. The team had chances to win the game on multiple occasions in the forth quarter, but couldn't shut the door on the Sixers (or the Celtics, or Pacers, or T'Wolves). Losses like this (these) toward the end of the season can destroy a team's morale, and a coach's for that matter. Couple that with a team's playoff hopes turning into distant pipe dreams in a matter of weeks, you have a nasty mix of frustration and despair roaming around your locker room.
Stephen Curry had this to say after the game:
"We're trying to get a positive vibe back in the locker room, and this loss doesn't help."
Talk about an understatement.
Being 1-4 on your longest road trip of the season isn't exactly going to spark confidence in your squad. And after the fight that the Warriors put up in the forth quarter (or should I say Monta put up), it was even more disheartening to put up such a dud in overtime. Getting a win in overtime over a playoff-bound team would have been big, but an overtime win over a playoff-bound team before the last games of your road trip are against two of the worst in the NBA (Cavs & Nets), it would have been huge. Now the W's have to muster the strength not to get completely embarrassed in their next road game against the Cavaliers, a game the Warriors should win, or maybe not.
In probably one of the best quotes I've heard all year, Coach Smart summed it all up very simply:
"There's no games in the NBA that you should win. There's games you've got to take."
If the Warriors want to salvage the rest of their season, they need to stop giving games away with their complacency, and start taking games away with some tenacity.