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Are the Warriors still hungry?

The Golden State Warriors don’t really have to prove anything to anyone. But they sure look not well needing to pick up the slack two days to their first round meeting with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs. Last Tuesday night. They closed their regular season out on a humiliating note, losing to the Utah Jazz by an embarrassing 40-point spread, 119-79. That was GSW’s third loss to Utah this season.

A week before, the Warriors were beaten by the Indiana Pacers, 126-106, making their coach Steve Kerr mad as he blasted his team for a “pathetic” effort, saying that they did not care. Kerr’s boys ended the regular season with a 58-24 win-loss record, a far cry from their usual standard of regular season excellence. They also went just 7-10 over the last month of the season.

Granted, the various leg injuries particularly to spiritual leader Stephen Curry, who missed 31 games this season and is expected to sit out the first round of the playoffs as well, would be enough to trip up any team, even one as mighty as the Dubs. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all also felled by multi-game and/or multi-week ailments in March, while others like Patrick McCaw and Andre Iguodala have yet to play in April thanks to injuries of their own.

Still, there have been signs that the members of the team seem not on the same page mentally, and it’s worth wondering if simply getting everyone healthy will be enough for them to get back on track as they continue their title defense in the playoffs looking bleak.

Warrior star Kevin Durant found himself in a bit of a disconnect with his head coach after Thursday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. When informed of Kerr’s comments in the locker room however, Durant, who finished with team high in points (27) and assists (seven), expressed disagreement.

“I thought we cared tonight. We cared,” said the former MVP as quoted by Mark Medina of the MERCURY NEWS. “Last few games, we cared. They (PacerS) played better basketball than us, They came out with a better strategy. They were more aggressive than us.”

The usually formidable Golden State Warriors stumbled their way to the end of the regular season, and Kevin Durant thinks that the team’s recent slate of injuries had a big effect on them psychologically.

After the Warriors were blown out by the Utah Jazz 119-79 on Tuesday in their final game of the season, Durant discussed the team’s rough sledding to finish.

In a separate interview with Anthiny Slater of THE ATHLETIC Durant said: “I just feel like there was so much movement in our lineups. I think that we let that take a toll on us a bit when we should’ve just pushed through it. I felt like it killed the morale a bit towards the end of the year. Just a weird finish to the season. Hopefully that mojo doesn’t come with us into the playoffs. I’m confident that we’ll be ready to play, and I’m excited to play. I think we’ll be fine.”

Kerr though didn’t feel the need to worry as he sounded positive following the Warriors 40-point defeat to the Jazz, saying: "My message is go home, take a day off, enjoy yourselves." He said they haven’t been playing with ‘joy.'

The Warriors season closing 58-24 record. Of course, this comes on the heels of averaging 69 wins per season over the past three years. At some point, it becomes difficult to keep up the motivation for a grueling 82-game season. Their fans know how good this team is. The Warriors themselves know how good they are. But with the playoffs right around the corner, they need to step it up. Getting healthy would be a good start.

The Golden State Warriors are going to the playoffs, but not as the 1-seed. Instead, they find themselves No. 2. But coach Kerr isn’t making excuses. And after their most recent loss, he’s hopeful going forward.

All season long, the Warriors would pace themselves. And there’s no problem with that. After all, they are trying to win their third title in four years. Sometimes the hunger goes away for a little while; sometimes it’s difficult to find that again. But over the course of a best-of-seven series, it’s difficult to bet against the Warriors. Despite Houston’s success this season, Golden State is still the team to beat.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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