The Golden State Warriors' slump reached peak weirdness against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
It was a game the Blazers won despite shooting 36 percent from the field – where the greatest shooting team of all time went 13-of-44 from 3-point range and 6-of-15 from the free-throw line. A game in which the Warriors trailed by double digits with three minutes left but still managed to force overtime. A game in which Steph Curry clanked a handful of open threes but splashed in a 35-foot inbounds pass at the end of regulation. A game in which Klay Thompson shot like Draymond Green and Green wound up hitting a go-ahead 3-ball in overtime. A game in which Curry barfed away the ball with a two-point lead and under 15 seconds to play and Kevin Durant missed a clean 12-footer at the buzzer after Damian Lillard had given Portland the lead.
Most significantly, it was sort of a microcosm of this weird Warriors season. The two-time defending champs have shot themselves in the foot at seemingly every opportunity, only to remind everyone they have enough talent to overcome their self-inflicted wounds, before subsequently inflicting more damage.
They started the year full of joy and verve. Curry established himself as an MVP front-runner while threatening to shatter his own 3-point record, Durant casually posted a 25-point fourth quarter against a team that's ostensibly recruiting him, Thompson hit 14 threes in one contest to break Curry's single-game mark, and even role players like Alfonzo McKinnie and Quinn Cook stepped up in big moments. They had people suggesting they could break their own regular-season record and win 74 games.
Then, the strangeness began. Curry got hurt, Green and Durant had a public blowup, Thompson went into a profound shooting funk, Green's worsened, the depth pieces faded, and the defense showed cracks. Even Curry's return hasn't cured their ills.
They've already lost four home games by 20 or more points, and two of those losses came in the last two-odd weeks with the Warriors virtually at full strength. One was against a Kawhi Leonard-less Raptors team on the second night of a back-to-back, the other against a Lakers team that lost LeBron James to injury midway through the third quarter. After Thursday's loss, the Warriors are a pedestrian (by their standards) 23-13, with the league's 14th-ranked defense and only its seventh-best net rating. So, what gives? And does any of this actually matter?