SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors’ 118-110 loss to the Cavaliers at home on Saturday night followed a similar pattern to their loss in Cleveland last week.
A second time around, the Warriors had no answer for Cleveland’s length and athleticism in the front court. Steph Curry’s 30 points represented the Warriors’ only significant offensive movement as the Warriors lost their second straight and fell to 6-4, 1-2 at home.
The Cavaliers dominated the paint on both ends of the floor, outscoring the Warriors 50-34, and ran all over Golden State in transition, scoring 32 points off the Warriors’ 20 turnovers.
“It felt sluggish tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Sometimes you come back to these trips being away for a while and there’s a little sluggishness.”
Kerr pointed to strong point of attack defense by Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell leveraged by forward Evan Mobley and center Jarrett Allen’s defense in the paint as the main reasons why this matchup has troubled the Warriors. The Cavaliers beat Golden State 115-114 on Nov. 5 in Cleveland, with the Warriors getting outrebounded in that game 54-44.
Outside of Curry, no other Warrior had the offensive juice to keep pace. Jonathan Kuminga’s 12 points, Andrew Wiggins’ 13 points, and Klay Thompson’s 14 were indicative of an offense unable to generate clean looks. Through 10 games, the only non-Curry Warrior to score at least 20 points was Dario Saric against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thompson was a minus-7 and shot 2-for-5 from 3.
“Individually, maybe my worst performance of this young season so far,” Thompson said.
As the faster-paced and more ball-movement-oriented starting unit struggled to find footing, the Cavaliers also locked up the more methodical Chris Paul-led second unit in both losses over the last week. Paul was a minus-12 with three turnovers. Curry noted Cleveland’s 43 free throws as an indication that they’d let the opposing team dictate the slower pace, forcing the Warriors into a half-court offense that gets stuck against bigger teams.
“They’re a tall, athletic team,” Curry said. “If you’re playing against set defenses and taking the ball out of the basket, and everyone sees you coming, that plays right into their hands. We talked about that coming into the game, but just didn’t do it. Their style is completely different to ours and we allowed them to play their type of game. In the NBA, you aren’t going to be able to out-shoot a team every night and overcome those mental errors. No matter how hard we fought in the third. It’s a tough way to lose.”
Draymond Green was called for a second technical foul and ejected mid-way through the third quarter, changing the tenor of the second half. Green and Donovan Mitchell got into an altercation when Mitchell pushed Green as he was taking the ball up court. Upon review, referees went back and found Green earned a technical foul for pushing off Mitchell on a play earlier in the game.
The Warriors play a pair of two-game series starting off with two against the No. 1 defensive team Minnesota Timberwolves with Sunday’s group-round In-Season Tournament game. Then they play two against the Oklahoma City Thunder before welcoming the Houston Rockets to town.