Bob Myers needs a break.
The Warriors will carry a fitting 29-29 record into the All-Star break after Tuesday night’s 134-124 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Through the first 58 games, the defending champs have been an enigma, as you never know what version of the team you’re gonna get. Sometimes they look like title contenders, other times they look overmatched by underwhelming competition.
Myers, the Golden State president of basketball operations/general manager, joined 95.7 The Game’s “Steiny & Guru” for his bi-weekly chat on The Executive Show on Wednesday and said the break is coming at a good time for the organization.
“The thing that everybody needs to do is get away from each other,” Myers told hosts Matt Steinmetz and Daryle ‘The Guru’ Johnson. “Everybody’s around each other so much. Space is actually good.”
The Warriors still have a lot of work to do with 24 games remaining, as they currently hold the No. 9 seed in the West, which would lead to the dreaded play-in tournament. In each of the six recent seasons the franchise went on to reach the Finals, Golden State occupied the first or second spot in the Western Conference at the All-Star break.
Of all the recent years, this season is shaping up to be like the 2020-21 campaign, when the Warriors were also .500 through 58 games. That season, they eventually got bounced in the play-in tournament, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers then the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime.
“We shouldn’t be talking about the playoffs like that’s pre-ordained,” Myers said. “We gotta get to the playoffs before any of those questions are answered, and hopefully have a good seed.”
Myers said the defense – especially in point-of-attack, pick-and-roll, isolation and blow-by situations – has been the reason behind the team’s mediocrity this season. He’s hoping that the addition of Gary Payton II will help the team, though he’s still about a month away from being re-evaluated for his core muscle injury.
“We could use Gary,” Myers said. “Payton is elite at that. Not that one guy solves all the problems.”
The franchise has already been through a lot this season in terms of injuries. Steph Curry is in the midst of his second extended absence, as he’s dealing with a leg injury after overcoming a shoulder subluxation that kept him out 11 games. The Warriors have also lost a lot of games due to injury for players like Andrew Wiggins, Donte DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green, Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman (before he was traded).
Curry and Payton are expected to return in the next few weeks and the Warriors hope they can put it together in the playoffs, like they did last season.
“The special thing about this group, you don’t just win four championships,” Myers said. “There’s a lot of talented players in sports. When you’re able to do it that many times with the same kinda core, there’s a belief, there’s a confidence. It’s a little bit like being a boxer. They haven’t been knocked out. They really haven’t. We’ll see how long they can keep going before that happens.
“I think the league kinda knows that too. I’ve never thought people were scared of our team or not. But when you’re playing these guys in a series, you look across and you look at guys that have done it four times, there’s a weight to that.”
While Payton’s addition should help, it pales in comparison to the big-money moves that other contenders like the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers made at the deadline. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the re-stocked benches in LA have only made it tougher for the Warriors to think about a repeat.
“It’s part of what makes it good,” Myers said. “You gotta compete. It’s a challenge. I love the competition. We’ll find out. We’ll see if we can beat those teams in a series. We’ll see if they can beat us.”