Steph couldn't ‘care less' about Warriors' seed after latest home loss

Steph couldn't ‘care less' about Warriors' seed after latest home loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – No matter where they finish in the rugged Western Conference, whether it’s sixth or 11th or somewhere in between, the Warriors will know they have spent most of the season unable to achieve the No. 1 priority of an NBA contender:

Protect your turf.

The failure to do that this season has been the source of several setbacks, the latest being a 119-112 loss to the Knicks on Monday night at Chase Center that was discouraging enough to take Stephen Curry’s mind off the pursuit of that coveted No. 6 seed.

“Maybe a week or two ago, the [No. 6] seed was the motivation,” Curry said. “Right now, I could [not] care less about where you’re at.

“It’s the consistency of how we’re playing. That’s the most important thing because, honestly, who cares what seed you are if you’re going to play like we did tonight? Six, seven, eight, nine, 10 – whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to get very far.”

Golden State took the court wearing a 17-17 record at home and headed for the showers lugging a 17-18 mark after losing to a partial squad of Knicks. The Warriors fell behind early and never took a lead. Never even played their way into a tie against a visitor missing three starters.

“The Knicks were great tonight right from the very beginning,” coach Steve Kerr said. “They took it to us, they were physical, they played with great force.”

The early intensity between the teams contrasted sharply, which is stunning given the stakes. The Warriors were coming off a rousing victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, moving into ninth place, only three games out of sixth.

Getting there was conceivable, even plausible, but would require a level of focus and execution that was lacking at home against the Knicks.

“I don't think it's a lack of effort,” Kerr said. “I think it’s just we weren't good enough, that simple. We just did not play well enough. It's disappointing because we got these three home games here this week and we wanted to get off on the right track.”

After two days in ninth place, the Warriors fell back to 10th, one game behind LA. They need a Hubble telescope to see the No. 6 seed, their goal as stated four weeks ago. The door is swinging open to the NBA play-in tournament, with all its perils and pitfalls.

All because they haven’t been thriving at Thrive City.

“That’s been our staple,” Curry said of winning at home. “We’ve given ourselves a little cushion every season for the last, however long. It’s a challenge that we have to overcome at some point down the stretch of the season.

“We understand the last best-case scenario is to try to have homecourt in a play-in environment, or when you get into a series and have to win here and protect your home court, especially as a lower seed.

“We’ve got to correct whatever is that’s ailing us.”

One of elements ailing the Warriors is their defense. It shined in February, when they ranked fifth in defensive rating and posted a 11-3 record that led them to believe they could make a late surge and avoid the play-in tournament.

They’re 4-5 in March. And 19th in defensive rating.

New York was good enough on this night that it could coast late, piling 99 points through the first three quarters on 51.4-percent shooting from the field, including 44.8 percent beyond the arc.

Golden State’s first 21 minutes – which is when home teams with high aspirations want to make a statement – were, depending on your point of view, either high comedy or pure horror. Knicks guard Miles McBride, making his 10th start since entering the league in 2021, hit the Warriors with 19 points – his career high for a half. McBride finished with a career-high 29 and Jalen Brunson produced a game-high 34.

“They knew what happened in New York when we jumped out to whatever it was [20-4],” Curry said. “So, you knew they were going to come out strong. They did, we responded, just couldn't get over the hump. It was wire-to-wire for them.

“And that’s another situation that we can't let happen on our home court.”

Yet it keeps happening. The Warriors have lost their last three home games – to the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs and the Knicks – the last two by double digits.

The play-in tournament beckons. In a skid with four losses in their last six games, the Warriors have corrections to make to ensure their spot.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast