Warriors being slapped by cold hand of reality at home

Warriors being slapped by cold hand of reality at home originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Couldn’t shoot, couldn’t defend, too often treated the ball as if it were worthless. For 16 minutes in the heart of the game Friday night, the Warriors were at their messiest against the one team they’d never beaten at Chase Center.

And still haven’t.

They once again bowed to the Indiana Pacers, who extended their perfect record (5-0) in Golden State‘s home building by seizing the game late in the first half and never giving it back, pinning a 123-111 loss on the Warriors that leaves their postseason hopes at cliff’s edge.

“Ain’t nobody going to feel sorry for us,” Chris Paul said.

A deep NBA playoff run by the Warriors appears ever more farcical.

The No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, still coveted, is fading from out of view.

Even a successful NBA play-in tournament, which they’ve never wanted but now would accept, seems a stretch for these Warriors, who would be “on the bubble” if there were a selection committee.

After a February revival that inspired such belief in themselves and faith among the fan base, March has brought the backhand of reality. Golden State is 5-6 this month, has lost five of its last eight games and will depart Saturday for a five-game road trip having posted consecutive 1-2 homestands.

“Before you go on a long road trip, [you have] the opportunity to protect your home court,” Stephen Curry said. “We talked about that so many times. We didn’t do it.”

The stumbles at home might be the hardest part to swallow. This season crested on the road last month and collapsed this month on their home floor. The Warriors are 2-4 at Chase this month – with three of the losses to teams either below .500 or severely compromised by injury.

“We’re a better team on the road this year, for whatever reason,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I don’t think it matters where we play. We haven’t been able to control our home court, so maybe we’ll go out on the road and find some momentum.”

That’s a glass half-full approach, to be sure, and one that befits the coach. But this was a night in which a painful statement rang out.

The Warriors, in playoff mode, scrambling in search of momentum, took a 10-point lead late in the second quarter and the Pacers absolutely torched it.

They closed the half with a 12-3 blitz, punctuated by a 33-foot Tyrese Haliburton triple, and they crushed all hopes for the Warriors with a 19-4 run over a five-minute stretch that yielded a 99-83 lead with 1:18 left in the third quarter.

“Their point guard play was fantastic,” Kerr said. “Between Haliburton, [Andrew] Nembhard and TJ McConnell, they just pushed the ball down our throats and got out in transition. I thought they were the more physical team as well.

“When we had that lead, they made the push at the end of the second and, also, at the beginning of the third. It just didn’t feel we were getting to the loose balls. They were out-competing us there for a little bit. And then we lost our poise a little. We started turning it over. Their physicality and their speed took us out of rhythm.”

“I thought they were the more physical team … They were out-competing us.”

Kerr explains how the Dubs got out of rhythm in the second half

— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 23, 2024

Golden State’s third quarter was among its most wretched this season, from the six turnovers to the 30.8-percent shooting from the field, including 23.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Warriors lost the quarter 36-21, with Pascal Siakam and Haliburton combining for 20 points.

The Warriors are three games above .500, 1.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and only two in front of the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference. This season only becomes more challenging – largely because they lost four of their last six home games.

“That’s the math of it,” Curry said. “But that’s going to sting because [we] missed huge opportunities to build true momentum and kind of settle ourselves in the standings a little bit. It just presents more issues of how we need to bounce back, whether we’re going to be playing for something in a couple weeks or not.

“Nothing’s guaranteed and I think we have enough pride to bounce back. And I think we want it bad enough, and we’ve got to go show it.”

There have been many agonizing losses this season, but this was not among them.

This was the Warriors, with the standings staring them in the face, failing to measure up to a team that, until further notice, owns their building.

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