SAN FRANCISCO – The prevailing sentiment was new to the Golden State Warriors. New season. New arena New city. And even a new list, or at least one that has undergone a significant overhaul since the team put their championship tracks on moving vans and crossed Oakland Bay Bridge a few months ago.
Before the Warriors opened their season against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night and played their first regular season game in San Francisco since 1971, coach Steve Kerr was still trying to get used to the new digs at Chase Center, a brilliant colossus. by the sea. Kerr said he had locked himself out of his office twice.
"We're slowly but surely discovering these things," he said before the game.
Even Stephen Curry, the franchise's most familiar face, is adapting to life with new teammates – and their new surroundings. In the old days, when the team played at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Curry would wrap up his pre-match warm-up routine by throwing a 45-meter footer from a tunnel in the court. But because the Chase Center tunnels are located just behind the baseline, Curry has found that he needs to say a prayer on the table. The degree of difficulty is absurd. Before Thursday's game, he missed the attempt – a lot.
The rest of the warriors night was so dark. The 141-122 defeat by Clippers was a reminder that this is a new era for Golden State, which will require patience, work and incremental progress – and a new one for Clippers, which is also good at basketball. After beating the Lakers on Tuesday, Clippers named the Chase Center a clinic.
"Losing stinks," said Kerr. "It's not fun. But that's more the reality of N.B.A. For the past five years, we've lived in a world that shouldn't exist."
For the past five years, the Warriors have gone to five consecutive NB.A games. finals and won three championships. For the past five years, Curry has had a cast of high-octane teammates who have managed to press the defensive and open the ground for their pyrotechnics. For the past five years, the Warriors have never had to use the phrases "growing pains", "baby steps" or "taking our lumps".
The landscape has changed, of course, especially at the Western Conference. To be fair to the Warriors, maybe facing the Clippers at the season opener was an unfair test. Clippers will demolish their opponents' share. Curry was realistic after the game when asked for his evaluation.
"The easy answer is that it's one of 82," he said, referring to the length of the season, "but there are some blatant things that we need to fix to win basketball games consistently."
For the first time in a long time, the Warriors are not championship contenders. Some experts even predicted that they would completely lose the playoffs. (Charles Barkley said that during Thursday's broadcast.) Kevin Durant went to the Nets, and Klay Thompson could miss the season by recovering from his knee injury at NB last season. finals.
On Thursday, newcomers D'Angelo Russell and Glenn Robinson III joined Curry, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney in the initial lineup of the Warriors. Clippers promptly scored the first 14 points of the game. It was not the best sign that the crowd seemed enthusiastic when the Warriors were only 11 in half.
Things deteriorated from there. The clever fans were still in the contest while Clippers spent the third quarter gaining 31 points. Large patches of expensive seats were empty at the beginning of the room.
"That was bad," said Kerr.
"We just got crushed," Green said.
"Our margin of error," said Curry, "is very small."
Russell is a great offensive talent, but Curry will face enormous defensive pressure this season. It was almost impossible for opponents to arrest him when he shared the court with Durant and Thompson. On Thursday, the Clippers sent double teams toward them whenever they could. Curry ended up scoring 23 points but hit 8 out of 20 on the field and committed eight turnovers.
"He will definitely get more attention," Kerr said. "You think about who he lost next to him."
The biggest problem for the Warriors, however, is their defense, which has the consistency of a pasta colander. Not long ago, they were one of the league's top defensive teams – an often overshadowed facet of championship formula. But the Golden State, as it is currently built, is not full of first-rate advocates. For the game, Clippers shot 62.5% of the pitch and 56.3% of the 3-point range.
"Throughout the season we will score enough points because we have some talent at that end," Curry said. "It's just a question of how bad we want on the other side."
Green was more direct: "Our defense was atrocious."
Lest anyone forget, Paul George, one of the league's top players last season, has yet to make his Clippers debut as he approaches a comeback from shoulder surgery. The point is: it could have been even worse for warriors.
It was a shocking night for a proud franchise, as the Clippers illustrated the gulf between ancient Warriors and today's Warriors. After the game, Kerr kept quoting the "young" and how they would need to improve, while Curry – now the oldest locker in the age of 31 – talked about learning and growing up. It was all so different, and all so new.
"We're starting over," said Kerr, "in many ways."