Ever since Kevin Durant hobbled off the floor in Washington ten days ago, the Golden State Warriors have gone from title favorites to a team struggling to find their way.
Golden State entered that game against the Wizards winners of seven out of their last eight games and with the best record in the NBA, 50-9.
Heading into this season, Steph Curry knew he would have to change his game in order to accommodate the addition of Durant. However with Durant sidelined for a significant amount of time, Curry is once again needed to be the player he was the last two seasons but seems to be struggling a little bit adjusting to the pressure of having to now carry a less than perfect Warriors team through the ladder part of the regular season.
In the five games without Durant, Curry is averaging 25.2 points per game. However he is shooting 42.9 percent from the floor and more significantly is shooting just 29.8 percent (17/57) from beyond the arc.
While those numbers are a bit shocking, the real surprise is that the Warriors are 2-3 in the five games without Durant and haven’t looked like the dominant team they have been the last few seasons. In that five game span the Warriors have been held under 100 points twice, which is the total number of times they were held under 100 points prior to Durant getting injured.
Durant being injured is obviously not what the Warriors envisioned happening when they signed him this past offseason. To get Durant, the Warriors sacrificed something that made them nearly unbeatable the last two seasons, their depth.
Now the Warriors are in a predicament that they had not planned for, playing without their prized free agent signing. Free agent Matt Barnes was brought in to add some depth to the team while forward Andre Iguodala was moved into the starting lineup. But it’s difficult to replace 25 points and eight rebounds a game.
Unless there is some drastic news, Kevin Durant will be back at some point during the Warriors playoff run. The only question would be how effective will Durant be once he comes back because it is as simple as this, if Durant is healthy then Warriors have a chance to win a championship but without Durant the Warriors may not even get out the Western Conference.
But let’s get one thing straight, the Warriors will be okay, they will not simply fall out of contention just by Durant’s absence and the more time they have to adjust to the absence the better off they will be. The biggest concern however would be can the Warriors adjust to gaining Durant back just like they will have to adjust to playing without him.
In a regular season that was deemed by many to be boring and predictable, the Warriors having to adjust on the fly to Durant’s injury might just make the last 20 games of the regular season more interesting than we all thought, it is just a shame it came at the expense of an injury to one of the NBA’s best players.