Every streak must end, and three ended for the Warriors on Sunday in their 115-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Golden State’s five-game win streak came to a close, as well as its four-game win streak on the road to begin the season.
So did the Warriors’ 12-game regular-season winning streak against the Cavs. This was the first regular-season game the Warriors lost to Cleveland since Christmas in 2016.
Skill was no match for the Cavs’ size, especially with the way the Warriors shot the ball.
The Warriors shot 35.8 percent from the field and were crushed down low. They were outrebounded 55-44, and the Cavs scored 34 more points in the paint than them – 58 compared to 24. Plus, Cleveland also had 26 fastbreak points, 16 more than Golden State’s.
All of that is an automatic recipe for a Warriors loss, even with their relentless effort throughout the game.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors dropping to 5-2 on the season.
Battle of the Backcourts
Star power shined bright Sunday in a battle of backcourts between the Warriors and Cavs. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have a decade of doing this together, including four rings, and the combination of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are in their second season starring together.
Curry and Thompson were the only Warriors providing offense through the first two quarters, but Garland and Mitchell were even better. The Splash Brothers combined to score 24 first-half points and the Cavs’ duo already put up 32.
Overall, Curry and Thompson combined to score 43 points. Curry scored 14 points in the first half and 14 coming out of halftime, but Thompson only scored five second-half points. Mitchell and Garland scored 55, in much different ways. Mitchell made five 3-pointers, and as Garland missed all five of his deep attempts, he was 12 of 13 from the free-throw line.
What’s concerning is the Warriors are searching for a third scorer. Draymond Green gave them 18, though that’s not his calling. Jonathan Kuminga scored 15 points and 12 in the fourth quarter. Andrew Wiggins only provided eight, and the Warriors received five from Chris Paul.
Bench’s Slow Start
The story of the early portion of this Warriors season has been how reliable the bench has been thus far. Everybody has an off-night, but on Sunday in Cleveland, all of Golden State’s bench went cold. The Warriors trailed by 12 points at halftime and the lack of production from the bench was a big reason why.
Curry and Thompson combined to score 24 of the Warriors’ 45 first-half points, shooting 50 percent (8 of 16) from the field and 60 percent (6 of 10) behind the 3-point line. Those who replaced the star backcourt off the bench couldn’t come close to replicating that kind of production. Gary Payton II was the only bench player to even make a shot.
The bench in the first half scored six points, going 2 of 20 from the field. The Warriors’ 15 second-quarter points were their lowest for a quarter this season.
Now time for the positive. Kuminga after scoring only one point in a rough first half stayed engaged and scored 14 second-half points. However, the Warriors’ second unit of Paul, Moses Moody, Kuminga, Payton and Dario Šarić played 3:32 together and were outscored 7-0 over 13 total possessions.
Welcome back, rookies
Warriors rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, one day after practicing with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, were back with the big squad, and immediately made an impact.
Steve Kerr had to turn to his bench in the third quarter, first calling Jackson-Davis’ name. The big man in seven minutes was a plus-4 with five points, three rebounds, one block and one steal in the third quarter alone. Podziemski and Jackson-Davis then started the fourth quarter, too.
Jackson-Davis played 12 minutes off the bench and was a team-high plus-8 behind five points and four rebounds. His main downfall was going 1 of 6 on free throws. Podziemski’s plus-5 was second on the team behind Jackson-Davis in eight minutes.
Both rookies have showcased a “we over me” mentality, from the preseason to their chances in the regular season. That playing style will give them more opportunities, and their energy was a needed spark despite the Warriors’ loss.