After setting the NBA on fire and putting up an NBA-best 24-0 start, the mighty Golden State Warriors fell against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, 108-95. The streak is over, a majestic one, but over nonetheless.
We all knew that it would come to an end, but who knew it would come against the Bucks? (The Pacers were previously our best bet, but Paul George and his crew lost too, last December 9.)
Here’s our analysis:
1) Fatigue finally caught up with the Warriors
The Dubs were wrapping up a grueling seven-game road trip in Milwaukee. They were also playing the second game of a back-to-back, coming from a double-overtime win against the Celtics the previous night. The moment they faced the Bucks, they we’re already running on half-empty.
Clearly, the Warriors had their legs behind them. They were slow to come back on defense; their rotation was one-second slow than usual; and everyone, except maybe for Draymond Green who tallied 11 boards, didn't have much lift. They didn’t look sloppy, but they were obviously tired.
Here's Michael Carter-Williams abusing the exhausted GSW defense:
When the young guard starts looking like a tip-top Kyrie Irving,you know the defense is exhausted. (Seriously, MCW and isolations are like Josh Smith and three-pointers; they just don’t jell with each other on a typical day.)
2) They just couldn't get hot
In the opening quarter, the Warriors can’t seem to get their groove on. They forced shots and were firing bricks from all over the place. At the end of the opening quarter, they only made two out of 10 tries from the perimeter.
In the second quarter, the Warriors notched only 20 points. That’s low for these run-and-gun Warriors, which average at least 28 to 30 points per quarter. To give you a more visual idea on how the Dubs wilted against the Bucks, check out the table below.
They win games by blowing opposing teams away. They can explode for a string of 15-0 runs in one quarter, leaving teams behind. So scoring just 20 points in one quarter is an anomaly in Golden State’s high scoring game. They are currently leading the Association with a league best 112.9 offensive efficiency (or the number of points a team score per 100 possesions), and true shooting percentage of 59.3 percent (or the number of field goals a team makes over their total shot attempts.)
The Bucks, by the basketball gods, were able to prevent the Dubs from getting those seemingly unstoppable scoring streaks. Golden State's biggest asset is their spot-on shooting. It wasn't there last Sunday, potentially because of fatigue as well. The ball movement was there; they were getting open looks; but for some reason they just can't get the ball to swish through the hoop.
One-half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson, was also coming from injury and was a gametime decision against the Bucks. He hit a couple of baskets including a nifty stepback three early in the game, but that was really it. Klay was ice-cold on the perimeter in the second half, missing all five of his three-point attempts. Thompson played for 30 minutes but only notched 12 points.
3) The inside was soft
Greg Monroe punished the reigning champs with 28 big points, many of which coming from the low post, and 11 boards. Not even the methodical Andrew Bogut or the athletic Festus Ezeli can stop The Moose from getting baskets under the rim:
It has long been hypothesized that small-ball can easily be countered by an agile offensive big. Greg is exactly that.
Monroe had a field day on Sunday, picking the tired Warriors frontline apart.
4) The Bucks ran the floor
Coach Jason Kidd is a cunning man. And that craftiness of his sometimes translates to surprising coaching decisions on the floor.
On Sunday, he made his team do something unusual. He made them run.
So what’s the surprise here? The Bucks have the third-slowest pace in the NBA, meaning running the floor and getting transition baskets are not really in their playbooks. They are currently averaging only 95.7 possessions, and 11 fastbreak points per game. The Warriors, on the other hand, are leading the league with 21 fastbreak points and 101.8 possesions per game.
The Bucks doubled their average output versus the Dubs, as they got 20 big fastbreak points (made baskets only, free throws excluded) that helped them get the W.
GSW has two defenders that are capable of running the floor back on defense and stopping a fastbreak by themselves: Andre Iguodola and Draymond Green. That they weren't their usually springy, defensive-minded selves bespoke of the Warriors condition that day: They were just tired.
And that's probably the secret to beating them this year: Catch them tired.
If that's the only viable gameplan against these guys this year, then yes, they're preeeetty good.
For the full highlights of the Milwaukee Bucks' win against the Golden State Warriors check out the video below:
Will the loss against the Bucks signal a losing streak for the reigning champs? Or will it just be a hump in the road as they come together for another record-breaking run?
We’ll find out soon enough. The Warriors face the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, December 17 (Manila time), at their homecourt, the Oracle Arena.
Photos from Bleacherreport.com., Sportscenter.ca, and Foxsports.com