Five takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Should Warriors think rest not record?

Getty Images
6 Comments

What you missed from a night around the NBA while cooking breakfast for yourself and 10,000 of your closest friends….

1) Warriors blow lead at home and lose to Timberwolves, should Steve Kerr start thinking rest over record?
I know that Steve Kerr said the Warriors are not pushing for 73 wins. I know after Tuesday’s loss Kerr denied that fatigue was an issue and part of the reason they have lost two-of-three at home. But the reality is the Warriors have been sloppy with the ball of late — 23 against the Timberwolves Tuesday — and if Stephen Curry‘s shooting can’t bail them out (21 points on 25 shots Tuesday, 0-of-8 in the first half) they are vulnerable. Curry looks tired to me, and that’s why the shots aren’t falling. Which brings us to the issue of rest.

It’s not necessarily physical, but Draymond Green admitted the team has seemingly been distracted by the chase for 73 wins — a number that will be hard to reach after the Warriors blew a 17-point lead and fell to Minnesota in overtime 124-117 Tuesday. Golden State is now 69-9 and would need to go 4-0 the rest of the way to break the record. They have two games left against beat up Memphis, and two left against the Spurs. But if they are serious about winning a title, a little mental break and some rest before the playoffs start may be what the team needs.

The Warriors finally got healthy Tuesday — Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut were back — but the bench had its worst outing in recent memory. The Warriors defense was not sharp all night, allowing open looks and space for drives — particularly by Andrew Wiggins, who had 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Curry and the offense could not cover up that play one more time, not against an improving Timberwolves team. The Warriors need to get right before the games get more serious in a couple of weeks, and if rest is part of that it should come as a higher priority than a regular season wins record.

2) Bulls playoff dreams on life support after loss to Grizzlies (while Memphis’ look solid again). Let’s be honest: The Chicago Bulls are not making the playoffs. Chicago is two games back of Detroit with four to play — and the Pistons have the tiebreaker. Chicago would need to win out — including beating Cleveland and Miami the rest of this week — and hope the Pistons lose three out of four so Chicago can get in the postseason. While technically not impossible, that’s not happening.

That’s the reality of Chicago’s 108-92 loss to Memphis Tuesday. Jimmy Butler is trying to play through pain but is clearly not right (2-of-8 shooting for 5 points), Derrick Rose is never going to be the guy who can carry a team again, Pau Gasol is solid but at age 35 is past his prime, and the Bulls defense is terrible. That’s not a playoff team.

The win ends Memphis’ six-game losing streak and should stop talk of them falling out of the playoffs — the Grizzlies are 3.5 games up on nine-seed Houston with four to play. Zach Randolph‘s 27 points and 10 boards secured the crucial win. That said, the banged up Grizzlies are the team everyone in the top half of the West would prefer to play in the first round of the playoffs, this team is a shell of its former self.

3) Kawhi Leonard hits the game winner as Spurs edge Jazz. Utah is a feisty team that will not go quietly, something the Spurs — the full complement of Spurs, the big names all played — learned the hard way Tuesday night. Utah fought from 16 back to make it a game, but in the end, there was Leonard hitting the contested shot to win the game. This could be a first round series preview, and if so I’ll take it — this would be a fun matchup.

4) This year’s Sixers will not be the worst team in NBA history, win 10th game. The Sixers are bad — 10-68 on the season — but they are not historically bad. Which is something, I guess. Tuesday the Sixers beat what’s left of the injury-ravaged Pelican’s roster 107-93 thanks to 22 points from Carl Landry. That gives the Sixers 10 wins on the season, better than the all-time low for an 82-game season (9-73 by the 1972-73 76ers). Not sure that’s a reason to throw a party, but avoiding ignominy is a good thing.

5) Another day, another Russell Westbrook triple double. Westbrook now has 17 triple doubles on the season, after grabbing another — 13 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists — in the Thunder’s 124-102 win against Denver. As I noted in the last PBT Podcast, Westbrook would be second on my MVP ballot, he’s been that special this season.