The Warriors were riding a high note prior to Thursday night’s game against the New York Knicks. They had won two games in a row — one of which was their most impressive win of the season, and the other their most complete game on both ends of the court.
But against the Knicks, almost nothing went the Warriors’ ways, resulting in a disappointing 119-104 loss at Chase Center.
First it was the defense, then it was Draymond Green getting ejected for yelling at his own teammate (which didn’t help the defense). On the other end of the court, the Warriors struggled to hit shots, shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor and 24.3 percent from 3-point range.
The Warriors managed to stick with the Knicks for most of the game, but they could never get over the hump. Halfway through the fourth quarter, the game was sealed.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s loss:
Defense struggles without Draymond
About 90 minutes before tipoff, coach Steve Kerr said that his team’s defense has been drastically different since Green returned to play after missing the first four games of the season.
So after Green’s ejection, it makes sense that the Warriors’ defense slipped. They were missing their best defensive player. However, that does not explain 40 first-quarter points the Warriors surrendered to the Knicks.
The Warriors defense was lackluster to start out, struggling to contain New York from the perimeter and repeatedly fouling when they drove to the paint. The results were showcased by the foul calls — the Knicks attempted 32 free throws.
New York has a 34.3 3-point shooting percentage on the season, sitting at 24th in the league. They shot 53.3 in the first quarter, and finished the game shooting 45.8 from distance. The Warriors improved in the second, limiting New York to just 23 points in the period.
But then the Warriors lost Green, who was ejected from the contest with just over a minute in the first half after receiving his second technical foul.
In the second half, Green’s absence was obvious.
The Warriors couldn’t consistently stop, or even slow, the Knicks. Julius Randle, who Green was tasked with defending in the first half, could get nearly whatever he wanted. Mitchell Robinson slammed home two consecutive dunks in which he was barely covered.
For a team that was coming off of one of their best defensive performances of the season, this game highlighted the impact Green has on that end of the floor.
Eric Paschall continues to thrive
As soon as Paschall checked into the game in the second quarter, it was clear that he was going to be a key player in Thursday’s game.
He scored eight points in his first four minutes, and he was actively looking for the ball every time he ran down the court.
Then, when Green got ejected after receiving his second technical foul, the need for Paschall to be at his best increased. It was no longer just about him keeping the bench unit on point. He needed to help keep the entire team afloat.
With 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting on the night, he wasn’t as strong as he was with the bench, but he did all he could.
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Despite the loss, Paschall’s impact on the Warriors is undeniable as he continues to work back from a disappointing rookie year.
There is still plenty for the Warriors to figure out
Heading into Thursday’s game, with a chance to go on a three-game winning streak, there was a euphoric feeling surrounding the Warriors. At least, from the outside looking in.
Before the game, it looked like the team was well ahead of the 20 games Kerr said he needed to get his guys going. They had just put together their most complete game in a convincing 121-99 trounce of the San Antonio Spurs, which featured rookie James Wiseman’s best game. In the game prior, a surging 115-113 comeback win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Kelly Oubre Jr. broke out for his best game of the season.
But the game against the Knicks made one thing crystal clear: the Warriors are still figuring it out. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it feels more jarring because of the performance the Warriors put together on Wednesday.
Without a doubt, there is a bad taste in the Warriors’ mouth following this loss. But the ebb and flow of how the team is playing now is probably how things will be for a while